Mahbub Shuhag, the Coventry University London Campus Officer, has compiled his tips on finding your community at University.
Every day, I find myself being approached by students, who seek advice on how to make friends. It's a common struggle, especially for international students who often face numerous challenges due to cultural and language barriers. Starting university is an exciting and transformative journey in your life. It's a time of personal growth, academic exploration, and, importantly, building connections that can last a lifetime.
Today, I will share with you some top tips that not only helped me make friends during my university days but also transformed those years into an incredible and enriching experience. Whether you're an incoming freshman or a returning student looking to expand your social circle, these tips will be your roadmap to making friends and creating cherished memories during your university years.
Over the years, I've discovered five key tips and accompanying action plans that have helped me build lasting friendships. Let's dive right in!
Tip 1: Attend Events and activities of Students' Union
Your Students' Union running events and mixers are your golden ticket to meeting new people in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Don't miss any of the activities at your campus, whether it's Welcome Breakfast, movie night, welcome week events, or a campus mixer. These get-togethers are meant to encourage mingling and will help you meet people with similar interests and passions as you as well as interact with students from other courses, nationalities, and backgrounds.
- Check the campus events calendar: Keep an eye on your University Students' Union website to find out when social events are happening. They're usually scheduled at the beginning of each semester, mark it on your calendar and book the ticket.
- Go with an open mind: Attend these events with an open and approachable attitude and with a smiling face. Remember, everyone is there to make friends too!
- Strike up conversations: Don't wait for people to come to you. Approach individuals or groups, introduce yourself, and ask open-ended questions to spark conversations.
- Exchange contact information: If you hit it off with someone, don't hesitate to exchange contact information. It's the first step toward nurturing a new friendship.
- Follow up: After the event, follow up with the people you've met. Send a friendly message, invite them for coffee, or suggest attending another event together.
Tip 2: Professional Networking Events:
Professional networking events offer a platform to meet like-minded professionals, fostering potential friendships and deeper industry connections. By initiating conversations, exchanging contact details, and following up, you can enhance your career prospects and establish valuable friendships. Platforms like Eventbrite can help you stay updated on such events, serving as a bridge to both personal and professional growth.
- Identify relevant events: Find and register for professional networking events or industry-related gatherings in your area or online.
- Prepare your introduction: Craft a concise and memorable introduction that includes your name, profession, and a brief statement about your interests or goals in your field.
- Initiate conversations: Approach other attendees and start conversations by asking open-ended questions about their professional background, experiences, and aspirations. Be an active listener.
- Exchange contact information: If you connect with someone interesting, exchange contact information, such as business cards or LinkedIn profiles, to stay in touch.
- Follow up: After the event, send follow-up texts to the people you met. Express your appreciation for their time, reference your conversation, and propose continuing the discussion or meeting for coffee or a follow-up event.
Tip 3: Social Media and Online platforms:
Social media and friendship-finding apps, such as platforms like Meetup, provide a convenient and accessible means to connect with individuals in your local area who share common interests, whether it's for hobbies, sports, or exploring the local culture. This app can be instrumental in forging new friendships and expanding your social circle, allowing you to discover like-minded individuals and engage in shared activities, enhancing your social experience in your community.
- Download friendship apps: Install friendship-focused apps like Meetup, or indicating that you're looking for friendships.
- Explore local interests: Use this app to discover people who share your local interests, such as hiking, gaming, or dining out.
- Message and meet: Start conversations with potential friends, and suggest meeting up for coffee, a walk, or an event.
- Participate in group activities: It also offers group activities or events; join these to meet multiple people at once.
- Stay safe: While using apps, prioritise your safety by meeting in public places and letting someone know your plans. Check out the SafeZone app (FREE on Android | Apple) enables you to call for help when you need it most, giving you fast access to university response teams. Log in with your Uni details!
Tip 4: Coffee Shops and Cafes
Coffee shops and cafes, known for their cozy and welcoming atmospheres, are ideal settings for striking up conversations with locals and regulars. These environments encourage casual interactions, making them perfect places to connect with people in your community, share stories, and discover new friendships over a cup of coffee or tea.
- Choose local spots: Frequent local coffee shops and cafes in your area.
- Strike up conversations: Approach other customers or staff with friendly greetings or casual conversation.
- Attend open mic nights: Many cafes host open mic nights or poetry readings; attend these and interact with fellow attendees.
- Join study groups: Coffee shops are often the choice for students to study. Join or initiate study groups with others.
- Participate in cafe events: Some cafes host events like book clubs or art shows; attend these to meet creative individuals.
Tip 5: Gyms and Fitness Centres
Gyms and fitness centres not only provide an opportunity for physical well-being but also serve as social hubs where you can connect with individuals who share your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. These spaces facilitate interactions, fostering friendships as you work toward your fitness goals alongside like-minded individuals who value health and well-being.
- Choose a gym: Find a gym or fitness centre near you that suits your needs and interests.
- Attend group classes: Participate in group fitness classes like yoga, spinning, or HIIT workouts.
- Be consistent: Visit the gym regularly to become a familiar face and build connections with other regulars.
- Start conversations: Strike up conversations with fellow gym-goers about fitness routines, nutrition, or shared fitness goals.
- Join sports leagues: If available, join local sports leagues or pick-up games to connect with athletes.
Remember, building friendships takes time, so be patient and persistent. So, follow these five tips to make your university experience incredible, filled with new friends that can last a lifetime. Wishing you the best of luck in your friend-making journey!