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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s been a few years since I was a first-year student, but I still remember how intimidated (and excited!) I was for university. It was my first time living on my own away from home and my parents, and I was finally experiencing more independence. But even if you’re living at home and staying in your hometown, starting university is a nerve-wracking new chapter of your life.

Making friends as a new student at university is challenging, but so important. Sure, you can call your mom every night to chat, but university friends will get you through everything. They’ll be the ones you call to gossip about the cute boy in your bio class, spend time together studying until early in the morning or hang out with on the weekends.

For some people, making friends is a scary experience they would rather not have to put effort into. I agree – it would be great just to have someone show up at our door and offer to be your best friend. Unfortunately, it’s even harder to make friends now when everyone on campus is wearing a mask, or half (or all) of your classes aren’t even physically on campus. Whether you’re a new student at university, a second-year student who had their whole first-year experience online or an upper-year student who just needs some help, here are some tips on how to make friends in university!

Be yourself

I promise the rest of this article won’t be a cliché script (at least most of it), but this is so true. Don’t concern yourself about fitting in. University is arguably the best opportunity of your life to seek out people who are similar and understand you. If you’re going to be at university for at least a few years, I’m pretty sure you’d want to be friends with people you can relate to. Seek out opportunities that appeal to you and you’ll easily meet people who are like-minded and interested in the same things. Just be genuine!

Step outside your comfort zone

Seeking out new friends can feel awkward, but remind yourself that everyone else is probably feeling the same way that you do. I know, some people are naturally extroverted and seem like they can become friends with everyone in the room. Don’t let this discourage you! Most people will be grateful that you reached out to them first and will be friendly to you in return. Even if you don’t stay close friends with these people, you’ll at least be cordial acquaintances that you’ll be seeing every class.

Form a study group

This works great for in-person and online classes. Many students form group chats for various courses to ask questions about assignments or projects (or complain about the class). If your class is online, don’t hesitate to start an online study group. Reach out to a few people, and they will likely pass on the message and invite others to join next time. Soon you’ll have a great group of people from your program to study with and likely become close friends with too.

Take advantage of small classes

Small class sizes can make the most awkward classes, but they’re one of the best places to make friends. Take advantage of small in-class group discussions and group projects during tutorials and labs. I don’t know about you, but attending a 500-person lecture sounds a lot more intimidating compared to a group of 30 or less. You can muster up the courage to say hi to the person beside you during class, but you likely won’t be able to find them again or know where they’re sitting next time. Even if you’re not physically on campus for small classes, it’s also easy to meet people in Zoom breakout rooms!

Join a club and attend events

The idea of joining a club can be intimidating! All the members already seem like great friends and have a bunch of inside jokes together, so it may seem like they wouldn’t be willing to add a new student into their clique. Joining a club is one of the easiest ways to find people with the same interests as you. Some clubs hire new general members at the beginning of the year or term, so keep an eye out for those meetings if they interest you.

Get to know your floormates

Living in residence allows you to have a pretty wide selection of potential friends. It’s probably easiest to start talking to people in the rooms beside you, but you can also try becoming friends with students who live down the hall. Going up to your neighbour to knock on their door is intimidating, but don’t hesitate to stop them next time they walk by and make plans to go to the dining hall together next time.

Everyone always says the first few weeks of university are the most important for meeting new friends. For the most part, they’re not wrong. Orientation events and new classes are the perfect places to introduce yourself and make some friends, but if you ask any current upper-year student, there’s a good chance they aren’t close friends with the people they thought they clicked with during their first year anymore. It takes a while to find your group of friends, so don’t be discouraged when you start to drift away from friends you met in orientation. Remember to be friendly and open-minded. Finding your group of best friends takes time. Good luck!

Melissa Huen

Wilfrid Laurier '22

Melissa is in her 4th year at Wilfrid Laurier University, studying Music Therapy with a minor in Psychology. When she's not busy raving about her hometown, Vancouver, BC, you can find her baking, travelling, or checking out the newest restaurants in town.
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