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Build your support network

Rosie, a current student at Reading shares her experience of her first week at uni and provides some useful tips:

How will I meet people at university? Will I be able to make new friends? What if I don’t fit in? I asked myself these questions, my housemates did the same, you might do too, and that’s ok. It’s natural to feel apprehensive about meeting new people and joining a new community, but rest assured – there’s plenty of support available for you at university to help you through this process. This being said, I’m confident that you’ll be offered a wealth of opportunities to make friends at university, and here are just some examples, drawing from my experiences, of how you can start building your social network.

Housemates

  • If you decide to live in university accommodation, my top piece of advice would be to take a doorstop with you. It sounds simple, but I honestly think that this is such a big help when you’re first getting to know your housemates. By propping your bedroom door open on the first few days, it conveys a message to your housemates that you’re open to getting to know them and that they’re welcome to come and chat to you. This makes it much easier for people, who are likely to be feeling nervous too, to come and say hello to you as they walk past. These initial greetings could prompt a conversation, and this might just end up being a bonding moment for you both!

  • Make the most of every conversation. In my experience, I most often bumped into my housemates when we were making breakfast, lunch or dinner, and this was the perfect opportunity to find out more about them. There are so many questions and conversations that can be prompted from just a simple meal. What have you got for dinner tonight? What’s your favourite meal? Do you enjoy cooking? What are your plans after this? These are just a handful of examples, the list goes on.

Expand your networks

Regardless of whether you’ll be living at university or commuting from home, there are lots of ways to meet new people and expand your social and support networks.

Course mates

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet new people on your course, whether that be in lectures, seminars, tutorials or group work. These will all be great opportunities to make friends on your course - remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking someone if you can sit with them during a class, they’ll probably be hoping to make friends with a course mate too! You can even join a society, run by students on your course, and attend social events with your course mates.

Sports and societies

Societies and sports are another opportunity to make great friends and meet people who share the same interests as you. There are over 150 sports teams and societies at the University of Reading for you to choose from; whether you fancy continuing or pursuing a hobby or sport, joining an arts-, political-, academic-, or faith-based society, there really is something for everyone! For me, I narrowed down from a list of almost 200 societies and sports teams to almost 50 that I wanted to join!

Part-time work/ Volunteering

Gaining paid or voluntary experience whilst you’re at university, is another avenue for you to meet people. In my experience, working for the Uni was a fantastic opportunity to not only gain new skills, but expand my social networks and make friends with people from lots of different courses, year groups and backgrounds.

Friends of friends

Last, but most certainly not least, a brilliant way to broaden your social network is by getting to know the friends of your friends. Do this by each bringing a friend along with you when you go out as a group - before you know it you’ll be going to events and seeing a familiar face left, right and centre!

One of the best decisions I made at university was making a conscious effort to make friends with people from outside of my house. As much as I love my housemates, I wanted to expand my social and support network and make friends with different groups. In my first few weeks I joined societies, got a part-time job, chatted to people on my course and bonded with my housemates and their new friends. My social life has never been better and my university friends have become family to me.

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This article is from the free online course:

Live Smart: Your Essential Guide to Living at University

University of Reading