Making Friends

In the last few years, there are three common worries for students starting their first year of college. One is financial, a problem which has unfortunately grown over the last few years due to the housing and accommodation crisis. The next is the worry that they don’t belong there and aren’t qualified to have their place in the college. The third, and probably biggest, is that they won’t fit in or make friends.

Over the course of the blog, we’re going to deal with all of these worries and many more, but for now we’re going to focus on the first – making friends.

Worrying about making friends is completely normal whether you’re a five year old starting primary school or a thirty-five year old starting a new job. No matter how confident or outgoing someone might seem, we all share these same fears, so don’t worry! You are definitely not alone in this.

Unlike secondary school, your time in college is very free, so you won’t have teachers or older students watching out to make sure you have friends to eat lunch with or sit with in lectures. But on the bright side, there are plenty more opportunities to meet new people in college than there were in secondary school! Here are just a few ways to make new friends:

• Talk to the people you sit beside in lectures! Even if you’re in lectures with hundreds of other students, you’ll soon start to see familiar faces, and this is a really casual way to chat to people. Everyone is in the same boat and whoever is sitting beside you will probably be delighted to have someone say hi and introduce themselves!

• Make friends in labs or tutorials! If you’re lucky enough to have these smaller, more interactive components on your course, these are great ways to make friends, as you’re basically forced to work together and get talking. It’s also really useful to have a few friends or just friendly faces on your course in case you need to get a few notes or check up on the homework!

• Get to know your housemates! Lots of people make great friendships with the people they’re living with. Just be careful that you also give each other space to avoid getting sick of each other too!! Even if you’re in digs or a house share without other students (like me!), you can get to know other students living nearby. These friends are also very handy if you need to share a taxi on the way home!

• Clubs and societies! Clubs and societies are a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests. Even smaller colleges have a wide variety of extra-curricular activities to get involved into whatever level you like. Clubs like outdoor pursuits and volunteering societies really lend themselves to Girl Guides like us! Be careful not to over-commit yourself to too many clubs though – bear in mind how many hours your course has and how close you live to campus.

• Get involved in your Student’s Union! The Students Union run lots of great events to help people get to know other people in their college community. If you’re interested, you can also run for roles like Academic Rep. for your course, which is another way to meet new people!

• Find your local Guide group! Most colleges will have a local Guide group close by, especially if you’re in a city. Get in contact with the National Office or with one of your Leaders back home to help you find a group and get involved with them. This will help keep you in the loop. And, of course, getting involved with The Storrows can also help meet new people who might be in the same or a nearby college!

• Stay in touch with friends from home! Don’t think that just because you’ve gone to college you need to cut contact with all of your old friends – after all, sometimes you want to talk to someone you’ve known for longer than a month! If some of your old (even more distant) friends are in your college, try to meet up now and again. If not, social media, facetime or a phone call with an old friend can help you feel far less lonely when you’re far away from home. And remember, they might need it just as much as you!

Now that we’re halfway through a semester, it might feel like everyone has found their groups and that you might never make friends – but that’s not the case. Everyone is still settling down and finding their feet, so don’t worry. Don’t be afraid to approach new people, or if you’ve been talking to someone in your lectures or tutorials to invite them for lunch or add them on Snapchat or Instagram.

Remember as well that you don’t need to have hundreds of friends – you have to try and make time for friends from home, friends from clubs, friends from your course and your actual studying after all, so be realistic about your time!

Also, everyone makes friends in different ways – some people will be best friends with their housemates, some people will love clubs and societies, some people’s best friends will always be the ones they made before college, and all of those options are okay! Make your friendships work for you!

Finally, remember that friendships take time to form and you won’t make best friends in a month. For the first few weeks of college I was convinced I’d be wandering around Maynooth with no friends for the next five years, but now that I’ve settled down more, I can see that that will be far from the case! Keep trying, and make sure if you’re feeling down about it to get in contact with someone you trust back home or in college, and consider using your college support services.

And remember that you’ll always have your Guiding family no matter what!