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27th September 2018

To the friendless fresher

There is a lot of pressure to have made friends during your first week at university. Yet, for many the struggle to find friends continues beyond Welcome Week. Isobel Gough takes a look at those pressures, and how to overcome them.
To the friendless fresher
Photo: Mohamed Assad

“Have you got the wristband?!” was a frequent ask across Freshers’ Week. For some, it was the best week of their lives. They make friends, go on great nights out and eat copious amounts of Turkiss. But for others, Freshers’ Week was a very different experience. Social anxiety can inhibit some students from creating valuable relationships immediately. UK students were ranked the loneliest last year, with 46% admitting to have struggled with friendships. To those struggling, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Freshers’ week is designed to help you navigate your new city and remove the stress of deciding where to go. That considered, I spent the majority of my time sat alone in my room, waiting for that evening’s events. Even then, most of them were not my cup of tea. The idea that I must continually present my best self to people I had never met was daunting. Introduction upon introduction became exhausting and I felt growing  pressure to find my crowd. In reality, the first few weeks in halls were a lonely place. Happily though, I made actions that helped me find my feet, and my university friends.

I may sound like your Reslife advisor but, the university truly does have an array of societies open to you. Whether you love Medieval re-enactment or yoga, (or yoga in medieval re-enactment garments), it is much easier to meet like-minded people through societies. Anxieties about being ‘cool’ inevitably spill over from college days, but societies tend to be less judgemental spaces. They are also the best way to meet people outside of lectures or university accommodation.

As well as societies, your course will bring you close you will spend great amounts of time with. It is easy to forget about your course during Freshers’ Week, but it will bring you into contact with people with similar interests. These are the friends who will wake you up when you start snoring in lectures, send you the sheets you’ve managed to lose, and stay up with you in the library on deadline day. If you get on with someone, ask them for a coffee or a pint! The chances are that they are just as nervous as you and looking to make friends. My closest friendships started with awkward coffee chat in the Ali G café.

Finally, go out and explore your new city. If you do not immediately find close friends, take it as an opportunity to learn to be comfortable in your own company. With art galleries, museums and £5 cinema tickets, there are multiple ways to escape the University bubble.

Cut that wristband off: Freshers’ Week is not the be all or end all. Be brave for another few weeks, be yourself, get involved and you’ll have found your people before you know it! Also, be kind to the person at teatime who keeps going on about how amazing freshers was. They are probably lying anyway.

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