I have always envied the people who can enter new situations and immediately become best friends with someone else. Although I like to think of myself as friendly, it always takes me a bit of time and multiple interactions to form a close and lasting relationship, making travelling across the world, away from my friends and family quite intimidating. Would people like me? Would I make friends? Would I find travel buddies to pop over to Europe with? Would I have people to grab a coffee or pint with on a Friday? If you are also agonizing over these types of questions, let me assure you that the answer to all them is a resounding yes! But if my word is simply not enough, let me highlight a few tips to make the friend-making process a little easier.
Embrace the awkwardness
Believe it or not, everyone in your new program is suffering with the same feelings of unease about meeting new people as you, so embrace it! Even if you are not an outgoing person, simply saying hello is a great place to start. I was lucky in the sense that my program only has 17 people in in, so inevitably we had to get to know each other, but even if you are in a bigger cohort striking up a conversation with the person sitting next you will get the ball rolling. Asking them where they are from or recommendations on where to get the best fish and chips will help break the ice. Know that you will not click with everyone, but you have to put yourself out there and risk being a little awkward to find those who you do click with!
Join a club
Universities are amazing today in offering clubs and societies to appeal to every intertest and hobby imaginable. At the Uni of Leeds, we have over 300 clubs ranging from wine tasters to surfing. Joining one or more of these groups provides a great and easy way to expand your friend network with people who share similar interests as you. I joined the hiking society when I arrived, and on top of attending organized, guided hikes across the UK, they also host weekly socials where you can go and get to know new people in a really laid back and fun environment. I joined the club with two of course mates, so not only was I am to meet new people in the club, it also brought me closer together with them, so if you are nervous about joining alone this could be a good way to break the ice with someone you want to get to know better.
Throughout the year tons of events are held both through the university and city that you can and should attend! These are things such as expert talks from visiting professors, farmers markets, or wine and beer festivals. No matter the time of year, there will always be something going on. These events are not only fantastic ways to meet people, but also gives you a chance to invite someone that you have class with or a flat mate to attend with you in order to get better acquainted.
Last but not least is to make sure when you first meet someone to get their contact info. This can be as simple as adding them on Facebook or following them on Instagram, just a way that you can connect in the future. There is nothing worse then finding someone you really get on with in class or at a party and then not being able to find them again!
All in all, meeting people in Uni is a little intimidating, but not difficult. Brits are really friendly and will always be up for a trip to the pub, you just have to be willing to put yourself out there! If you are wondering how you can find your British BFF please contact one of our advisors here.