How to make friends while you’re at University

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Making friends as an adult while you are at University can seem like a strange concept, and it can run the gamut of emotions from mild discomfort to downright panic.

When you were a child, making friends used to be easy right? I remember it going a little bit like this.

“Hi, this is my dinosaur”

“Cool I like dinosaurs! Do you like Nintendo?”

“Yeah!”

“Let’s be friends”

And off we went.

Making friends as an adult at University seems way more complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding the right friend is about finding the right person you can connect with. Shared interests, similar backgrounds, aligned academic disciplines, you’re smart, you’ll work it out. Fundamentally, making friends as an adult is about willingness to get slightly out of your comfort zone. It is also a willingness to listen and learn. Here are a few tips to help you find those connections with fellow Atira residents, fellow Uni students or a complete stranger in a café.

“A 2016 Finnish study found that men and women make more and more friends up to the age of 25 when the numbers begin falling rapidly, then gradually decrease over the course of a person’s life.”

You’re enough, so be yourself and say ‘hello’

There’s many reasons why children can make friends easily, but the main one is most probably a lack of self-consciousness. The first step towards making a new friend is saying hello. All you need to do is drop the facade, get over yourself and begin talking to someone. Don’t worry it gets easier from there.

Body Language

One of the most frequently quoted statistics on nonverbal communication is that 93% of all daily communication is nonverbal. Need some tips? Smile, maintain good eye contact, try not to cross arms and legs, mimic their body language mirror them. Act like the other person is the most interesting person in the room. Don’t check your phone, don’t focus on other people in the room, don’t think about your last meal or your next test. Listen.

Make small talk AKA practice

You’ll find most people in Australia are friendly and will smile and say hello if you do. You may have to talk about the weather sometimes but it turns out small talk is good for you.

“Research shows that making small talk with strangers can boost your body’s level of feel-good hormones and also help you practise making conversation,”  Jacqui Manning.

Take conversational baby steps

Start a conversation with a Resident Assistant, then a resident, then a classmate, then a classmate’s friend, then the barista, then a taxi driver, then a complete stranger etc. This way you progressively engage in conversation with people who have less social ties to you, thus creating a bigger “challenge.”

“In the US, health officials are warning of a ‘loneliness epidemic’ after 43 per cent of people admitted to feeling closed off from others.”

Ask questions, then listen

Find out what the other person is interested in. With the plethora of topics and interests like movies, books, sports, gaming, food, travel, music, there’s a good chance you and another person have something in common. And guess what, if you don’t, it may be a prime opportunity to learn something new.

“Adults tend to hold onto negative experiences, so if you’ve had a friendship that turned sour or you’ve been rejected in the past, it can cause you to feel cautious and prevent you from reaching out again,” psychologist Jacqui Manning.

Go to the Res Life events

Atira’s Resident Life events are one of the best ways to meet fellow residents with similar interests to you. If you don’t feel like socialising, chances are others are in the same boat. If you get out of your room and include yourself in group activities the results may surprise you.

“Linked to everything from a weakened immune system to a heightened risk of heart disease — and more recently a 32 per cent increased risk of premature death — loneliness has become one of society’s silent killers, which means it’s never been more important to widen your social circle and reap the benefits of community.”

 

Final word

Find some time to go out of your way to find someone who is on their own. Find an activity to do together or get a bunch friends together and invite the person along to a planned  day event. It would mean a lot to them, and though it may not mean much to you at first, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

We hope this instalment has given you a few ideas. Remember that RAs are always here for you and up for a chat anytime. Enjoy your week!

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