Sometimes it turns out that university isn’t the promised land that people make it out to be. We get that, believe us. University can often be like a huge melting pot, and occasionally, sadly, you end up with the burnt stuff at the bottom. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is sometimes. We understand that people have good and bad times at university (mostly good, we hope), and that’s why we want to give you as much advice as possible to get back into the swing of things if you are feeling down about it all.
Remember why you are there in the first place
Take a second to ask yourself why “why am I here?” and by that we aren’t looking for a philosophical answer! As cold as it sounds you aren’t there to make friends, you are there to get a degree. In the grand scheme of things, three or four years isn’t that long a time as far as life is concerned. Getting a good grade in your degree is much more important than anything else right now, and this needs to be made the priority if it isn’t already. It’s not exactly the most romantic notion, but being in this mind frame will certainly help.
Your degree also has another advantage when it comes to fitting in. If you are struggling to make friends where you are living, then a few revision sessions with some classmates might be exactly what you need to fit in elsewhere (or invite them for a pint in the students union bar, either will help.)
Settle your differences
Some people are, lets be honest, not worth being friends with. But, if you aren’t enjoying yourself, isn’t it a lot easier to try and settle your differences with the people that you aren’t necessarily friends with, rather than spending your time struggling to fit in? We know it’s not the easiest thing to brush everything under the carpet and start again, but in this case it may well be a good move.
Your university years are supposed to be the best years of your life; why spend it holding a grudge against someone?
This will take time, and we get it if you don’t want to, but at least consider it. And if you do decide to take this route, then don’t just pretend that nothing happened – make a concerted effort to come to some kind of agreement with the people you’ve fallen out with, it’s not going to work if you don’t put in any effort.
Join A Society
It’s simple, really: shared interests means that at least you’ll have something to talk about in the first instance. The assumption here is that you’re more likely to get along with people who share the same interests as you. This isn’t realistically always the case, but it is a good place to start, and a guaranteed conversation starter.
Friendships aren’t just built on one foundation of shared interest in something, so you need to be pro-active about making the conversation stretch further than just society related topics.
Many student unions have tons of “exciting” societies to join, and they are normally at a low cost too. The best way to find out about them is to visit your universities students union website, or get in touch with them during Fresher’s Week. If they don’t have anything that you are remotely interested in, then why not start your own society? I mean, it’s not very easy, but it’s an idea to get you going.
Societies are great for taking your attention away from your studies as they often have work-ish based projects, as well as social activities. It keeps you busy, focused, and gives you the opportunity to cherry-pick the people that are on the same level as you at university.
In our experience meeting people and making friends is an exponentials process – the more people you meet and hang out with, the more you’ll meet in the future. It all happens very quickly after the first few people; especially when you become a member of a society.
Be More Confident
Yeah, yeah, we know how horrible the cliché is. But if you’re not feeling particularly confident – we know it can be hard to be like that when meeting new people – try and fake it! It sounds strange, but it is very true. Fake being confident, and in time it’ll come naturally.
You just need to think to yourself:
“This person doesn’t know me, what have I got to lose?”
You need to find that confident person inside of you, and talk to new people about things they are interested in – even if you are not! It just gets the ball rolling a lot quicker and then bang, you are a confident student making friends! Easy.
Just for the record, try not to go overboard. Too confident can be a real turn-off, and not just in the sexual sense. Be confident; don’t be Russell Brand – you don’t have the hair or the teeth to pull it off.
Stay In Contact With Your Friends From Home
Your friends back home will be missing you just as much as you miss them – give them a call sometime and just have a good long chat, or even a Skype. They might be having similar problems to you or they might be very much enjoying their life at the moment. It doesn’t matter – they’ll be happy to hear from you either way. How do you think our friends know we love them at 4am? Drunken phone calls of course!
It can be immensely therapeutic to get in contact with the people you were talking to before university – it’s not like they’ve disappeared, and they probably have a lot to talk about too. If you don’t want to talk to them about all of your problems, then just listen to what they’re up to! You don’t have to be active in something to enjoy it (think television) and it’ll be great fun listening to all of the other shenanigans that have been occurring without your knowledge.
Besides, your friends will always offer much better advice than we can, purely because they can give you personalised advice that will apply to your personality. Sorry guys – its not possible to know each and every one of you!
Stay In Contact With Your Family
The same thing as with your family applies, though of course we don’t expect you to tell them everything. Maybe a visit home is what you need? Home comforts and mum-made dinners is always a therapeutic way of dealing with problems at university. Everyone’s family set-up is different, but for the most part it’ll surprise you how much they’re ready and willing to do for your sake when you need it.
Get a job
The workplace is also a great way of making friends, as well as earning some money to fund some of your university life. There are many jobs suitable for students from bar work to retail work, which are all very social and demanding in terms of customer service. Obviously if you have a lot of university work then this isn’t the best option for dealing with your problems, as you are there to get a degree, but a sensible amount of part time work usually has no effect, and starts to build your CV for when you leave university.
Talk To Someone
If you’re having a bad time, you have to talk to someone. As mentioned you can choose to talk to your friends or your family members as they know you the best -unlike us!
Your university will also provide a list of people you can talk to if you are struggling to fit in. Whether it be your course, living arrangements or generally just your feelings, they will be able to help you. You shouldn’t turn your nose up at this kind of thing – what’s on offer is a private opportunity to talk to someone who will listen to you and keep what they hear confidential.
A lot of the time – even if you don’t realise it – what people want is just to talk to someone, anyone. As we said, it’s an evolutionary thing – we’re social animals and our bodies and minds think that we should communicate; they’ll flood the system with chemicals until we do. So talk to someone – it will help more than you would believe.
University isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it – there’s more help and opportunities to make friends out there than you think. Be pro-active and the rest will come naturally. Good luck and have fun with it! You still have time to make more of your university life.