It’s the first day of school. Other children run around in uniforms two sizes too big, a desperate attempt to save some money with the classic phrase, “they’ll grow into it”. Some hold hands of older siblings, some walk in alone. As an only child, I’m one of them. I wave goodbye to my mum at the gates, and run into a new adventure.
Later that morning, I walk up to a group, lego blocks in hand. “Can I play with you?”
The vulnerable question that might lead to one of my first experiences of rejection at school. Would the answer be yes, and we’d happily play with giant lego blocks and be each other’s first friends at school? Or would the answer be no, and I’d leave feeling a little deflated.
The first month at uni sometimes can feel a little like the first day of school. Instead of uniforms that are two sizes too big, we choose ring binders that we promise to fill with lecture notes. Instead of lego blocks in hand, we bring a bottle to a flat party or a pack of biscuits to a DMC. We pack too many tea towels and not enough plates. We’re working it out.
As much as we might not like to admit it, there is a lot about making friends at uni that resembles those first weeks at school. Finding and making friends can feel vulnerable and strange to be doing as an adult, but somehow, between building blocks and bringing a bottle, we create friendships that make an impact for even longer than the three years on campus. Here are some ways that you can build and invest in friendships that can last a lifetime.
Be a friend
The wonderful thing about the first term of Freshers is that everyone is feeling the same way about making friends. No one has turned up on campus with their entire friendship group from home. Everyone is trying to find their people. Being a friend to your flatmates, your course mates and the people you meet in societies is the best first step to building friendships. Invite them out for coffee, go on a night out, ask them to try out churches with you - whatever it is, be bold enough to extend an invitation. They’ll be feeling exactly the same as you.
Join a church
It is a joy to have close friends who know Jesus too. Some of your closest friends will likely be found in a local church. Although you may not be best friends from day one (or even term 1!), know that you have the best thing in common: Jesus. Find a church, join a small group and get serving. These are some of the best ways to create deeper friendships. Check out Student Linkup to find a church near to your uni campus.
Ask a Student Worker about the city
Story-time. During my Freshers week, I didn’t enjoy going out every night. I wasn’t used to going out every week, let alone every night. After two nights out, I was done and wondering what this brand new city had to offer outside of the club. I approached a local student worker and asked them for alternative places I could visit. As it turns out, two other students had asked her the same question. She cleverly put the three of us together in a group chat and sent us off to a coffee shop that was open until midnight. Eight years later, the three of us are best friends, were maid of honours at each others’ weddings - a friendship forged over a love of coffee shops and Jesus.
Take the pressure off
Making friends as an adult can feel weird and uncomfortable. I get it. But taking the pressure off to make your best friends in your first week helps to feel a little less awkward about it. In no other circumstance in adult life do we feel the pressure to make best friends within a week, so why do we allow ourselves to feel rushed during our first few weeks at university? Making friends as an adult is not exclusive to your time at university, but will continue throughout your adult life. When you start a new job, join a new club, move onto a new street - each opportunity will present you with the same question: how do I make friends? Remove any pressure and have fun getting to know new people.