“21 Pieces of Advice I Wish I'd Been Given at Uni”
At the beginning of the academic year, the Freshers stereotype is always plastered across the media, labelled as a time to let your hair down, drink copious amounts of alcohol and sleep with people you’ve only known a few days (or even a few hours). A quick Google search of ‘Freshers’ brings up numerous articles about unsafe sex, boozy nights out and even public indecency from savage first year students.
But what is Freshers really like? Does the media portrayal of these feral, supposedly untameable 18 and 19-year olds ring true for all Uni students?
For me, even though my first year of University was four years ago, I remember it pretty well. It was a daunting time – moving away from home, being put in a house with strangers who you’re expected to get along with and being told that the norm is to go out and get drunk every night for a week – it was a lot to take in all at once. I was lucky that all of my flatmates were really lovely and I had lots of fun dressing up and getting ready for a night out with them. This isn’t to say I didn’t get homesick though. There were moments where I felt paranoid that the girls in my flat didn’t like me and they were all making small cliques without me. In hindsight it seems ridiculous - I ended up living with two of the girls in second year and still stay in touch with them four years on. At the end of the day, everyone is in the same boat; we’re all there frantically trying to make new friends and fit in, ready to start this new chapter of our lives together.
As someone who has been there, who has felt homesick, who has gone on night’s out with a huge crowd of people only to come home later and still feel lonely, I want to make Uni life a little bit simpler for you by passing on some of my tips for making friends at University – and it doesn’t even have to involve alcohol!
THE WAY TO A FRIEND’S HEART IS THROUGH THEIR STOMACH
Okay, I know that’s not exactly how the saying goes but (almost) everyone likes cake/biscuits/chocolate, so pick up (or bake if you’re so inclined) a little treat and offer them round to your flatmates. There’s nothing better than getting to know someone over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Another foodie suggestion (and something my flat did for a week during our first term) is to do a ‘Come Dine With Me’ style challenge, where each person cooks one meal for the whole flat on a designated day. We didn’t score each other but it was good fun sitting around and chatting in the kitchen, and it also saves you having to cook on all but one day of that week.
This may seem like an obvious one, but in the moment it can be easily forgotten. Ask your new flatmates about themselves, because guess what, we all love talking about ourselves. Not only will you get to know each person better but it’ll keep the conversation flowing as well. You don’t have to go in all deep and ask about their sex life or their political views just yet. Ask about where they grew up, whether they have any hobbies and what music they like just to break the ice. THEN you can ask them what they really thought about the referendum.
“ Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals ”
Now I’m sure Oscar Wilde meant well with this quote, but at University, societies can be the route to friendship. Not everyone will click with the flatmates they’re randomly assigned to in first year, and that’s okay; that’s just life. By joining societies that interest you, not only do you have a whole new group of people to socialise with, but the group of people all have the society as a common interest! Whether you join a sports group, a religious society, a drama society, or even the Harry Potter society, you’re guaranteed to meet some people with the same values and views as you (even if those views are ‘should Hermione and Ron REALLY have gotten together or should it have been Hermione and Harry?’).
I hope these little pointers are useful; I know doing these things really helped me in surviving Uni and making friends during my first year! Even if it’s second term and you still feel lonely and a little bit lost, just know it WILL get better – put yourself out there and don’t be overwhelmed by the Freshers stereotype. Focus on being you.
Written by Charli Babb, 10 months ago
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