The saying goes “Whoever finds a friend finds a treasure”. But it’s not always easy to meet new people and make new friends, especially after two years of impaired social relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed changed everything, including our friendships. Social distancing has made it difficult to meet new people but also to keep in touch with old friends.
But now, with the return to normal and the start of university, we find ourselves in a more advantageous situation: it is easier to make new friends. IRL (in real life). Then it’s time to flex those out-of-use social muscles to meet new people. On the other hand, having friends leads to one set of benefits: it is good for the mood, increases self-esteem, helps to better manage stress and creates a certain emotional and mental well-being that is also reflected on the body. So putting aside embarrassment and jumping into new social situations is always worth it.
To help you achieve this we have put together some tips (simple and practical) that will help you make new friends at university.
1. Look for people with similar interests to yours
Don’t expect people to approach you and ask you to be their new best friend, we’re not in first grade anymore. But you can put yourself in situations where meeting new people is more natural. For example, you can get involved in extra-academic activities that you like the most. That way, you already know that other people share the same interests as you and then you will have a perfect starting point to start a conversation.
2. Be open to everything
Keep an open mind as much as possible. For example, just because someone isn’t obsessed with your favorite TV show doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Staying open minded when it comes to making new friends is key. Sometimes it’s nice to have interests other than your friends, isn’t it ?! How else would you hear about books, movies and TV shows other than the ones you already watch?
3. Start as many conversations as possible
At the university bar, in the corridors or in the garden between courses. Why not, even in line to the bathroom. Start a conversation with the person next to you. Don’t be afraid to let go, forget about insecurities and talk to strangers. Will it be totally unnerving to make the first move? Probably yes, but it will be worth it once you break the ice and find a new friend.
4. Take your time
Like when you have a crush, even with friendships you should never force your hand too much. At the beginning take things calmly. Wait until you feel comfortable chatting before suggesting we go somewhere else together, whether it’s just for a coffee or a Saturday night out. Also avoid high-tension or potentially embarrassing situations, such as a family dinner and opt for something casual.
5. Get to know as many people going on with you
This advice mainly applies to college freshmen. You may not know it yet, but your university lectures are likely to be for a particularly large class, perhaps even with 200 people; which makes the course a great place to meet new people – considering also that everyone is in the exact same situation, and that everyone tries to make new friends.
6. Take advantage of the events organized by the university
Often, at the beginning of the year, all the institutes have orientation days or more generally events organized on purpose to socialize. Even if they may seem a bit boring to you, in reality they are a great place to meet new people. That girl sitting next to you is likely to be just as nervous as you are. Come closer and exchange some courtesy jokes. You will see that in the blink of an eye the group of people to converse with will grow larger.
7. Be yourself
Often, when we meet new people, we think we have to behave in a specific way, different from how they usually are. But actually most people value authenticity more than anything else. The advice, then, is that of just be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, that’s okay. Not only will this help you forming more authentic friendshipsbut you’ll have a lot more fun with people you can be yourself with.
8. Be persistent
Did you chat with some girl a couple of days ago at an event and now have you seen her on the other side of the class? Dare to go say hello! Taking care not to pass for a stalker, be persistent with the people you have known. Ask them how things are going every time you cross paths, propose to take a lunch break together or to find an afternoon to study. From what comes what.
9. Remember to network
Chances are you have at least one friend who also has another friend who goes to the same university as you. You don’t have to be bff with that such person but could help you when it comes to meet new people. Maybe, for example, this friend of your friend can introduce you to her tour, or it can be the +1 with whom you will go to your first party, just to keep each other company. Networking is not just about finding workbut it can also help when it comes to building new relationships.
10. Make the effort to try
Making new friends doesn’t just mean taking the first step, but always making an effort to grow the relationship. Once you meet someone you feel comfortable with and enjoy chatting with, ask them for their phone number or IG contact and stay in touch. Invite them out or go to a movie. The more time you spend together, the easier it is to become friends.