How can a second-year international student make new friends?” “Can people recommend societies [or] clubs to do next year that are super friendly and social?” “Looking for a society where I can make lots of good friends.”
Around this time of year, anonymous Facebook pages like St Feuddrews and St Andrews Crushes seem to be inundated with posts all asking a similar question: how do I make new friends?
For first years, the answer seems to be a no-brainer: say “hello” to everyone during Freshers’ Week, join new societies, and attend give-it-a-go sessions; get involved in the events with your hall committee, keep your door open and befriend your neighbours –the options feel endless.
However, it is normally returning students who ask themselves (or, in this case, anonymous Facebook pages) what steps they can take to make new friends. Whether they had a lonely first year and want to change things or they are just looking to expand their friend group and get to know new people, it feels like most returning students have wondered if there is a life beyond first-year friends.
Therefore, I am happy to announce that, yes, first-year friends are not all there is! You can make new friends in any year, at any time, anywhere.
Moving out of halls after first year and into private accommodation, I went into second year with a similar fear to many of my peers: how am I going to maintain friendships with people who don’t live in my building anymore, and is it even possible to meet new people if I’m not living in student halls?
While these questions we ask ourselves may make us feel scared because we don’t have the answers, it is actually one of the most helpful steps we can take to finding new friends. Like the law of attraction, or the belief that “thoughts become things,” setting an intention mentally that you hope to make new friends and being vulnerable with yourself already ensures success. Though this is a big step, I know many people are reading this article seeking a concrete answer. What societies are the most social? Where can I go to meet people? How do I make someone my friend?
Unfortunately, these answers differ from person to person, and there is not a step-by-step guide for how to make friends because the people you would get along with are different from that of someone else.
But, just in my experience, there are a few general ways to seek out new friendships.
First, try your best to interact with the people around you and even add them on Facebook after you meet them. Academic classes are a great place to do this because you already have one thing in common, and starting up a conversation is much easier as you can talk about something mundane, like the homework or the lecturer, to get the ball rolling. Additionally, if you add them on Facebook, you will be reminded of each other more often as you’ll see pictures they’re posting or memes they’re being tagged in, and it will make you more comfortable talking with them in the future as you feel like you already know them.
Along with new friends from your subjects, why not call up some old friends from your first year? Many of us leave first year with “friend crushes,” or wishing we could be better friends with someone we only know as an acquaintance. While it’s scary to ask someone for coffee, especially when they’re not your best friend, treat it like an experiment and, if they say no, just ask someone else. You never know – an invitation to hang out could completely make their day and be exactly what they were wishing for.
If one-on-one chats make you nervous, especially with an acquaintance, plan something with a group. Whether it’s a girls night in, pre-drinks at your place, or lunch at Mozza, having more people around and lots of different conversations to jump into can often make people feel more at ease and thus let you have better conversations and grow your friendships.
Finally, the golden rule to making new friends: say yes more often. Go to that society event you got invited to, buy that Sinners ticket and hang with your sports club, offer to volunteer at the bake sale. Be more of a butterfly and less of a hermit crab – both are lovely and necessary states of being, but sometimes just adjusting the balance of the two is all you need to start feeling more confident and building deeper connections with those around you.