Making and sustaining friendships
It’s easy to feel like just a number when you first start university. Most people don’t know anyone in their classes. Some don’t even know anyone on campus.
That was my experience anyway. I came to UBC and moved into first-year residence not knowing a single soul. Fast forward to now - I’m starting my fourth year with a solid group of friends.
So how do you make and actually maintain friendships, while balancing a busy school life anyway?
To start: you’ll need to meet people. For all the introverts out there (including me, so don’t worry - you’re not alone!), this means you’ll have to put yourself out there and talk to people. I know it’s nerve-wracking to initiate conversations with people you don’t know, but trust me, the rewards are worth it.
Here are some great ways to meet people:
- Strike up a conversation with the person next to you in class. If you get along, sit in the same spot next lecture, and they’ll likely come sit with you again. One of my profs told me that he met his best friend (who was eventually the best man at his wedding) by sitting next to him in a first-year chemistry class!
- If you live in residence, attend residence events and hang out in your floor lounge when you have nothing to do. Check out this post for some handy tips on how to meet people in residence.
- Join a club or intramural league! These exist so you can meet people with similar interests outside of the classroom.
Once you’ve met people and you feel a connection, how do you build a friendship? It takes time and effort, but again, it’s well worth it.
Here are some great ways to make and sustain friendships:
- Initiate conversations. Asking “How are you?”, “How was your weekend?”, or “Did you travel anywhere this summer?” are a few good conversation starters. From there, you’ll get a sense if this is a person you’ll want to chat with more.
- Meet up and hang out with a new friend in a different context than where you first met (e.g. outside the lecture hall). Try studying together or another activity where you both share an interest. Even grabbing a cup of coffee together counts!
- Keep in touch! I can’t stress this enough. Whether it’s through text, Snapchat, Skype, or WhatsApp, keeping in touch is key. Losing touch with someone is one of the main reasons why friendships fade.
- Show appreciation for your friends. Thank them when they do something for you, and return the favour. A little “thank you” goes a long way!
- Support your friends when things get rough. This can be done by listening to them, being a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes offering them a distraction. Being there for someone is one of the best ways to show that you care.
Friendships can make all the difference when you start your journey at university. No matter your circumstances, reaching out and making personal connections will help you make great memories in no time.