How To Make Friends At University by Jack Shannon

University can be a pretty scary time. Sometimes at 3am when you can hear people laughing, singing, dancing and vomiting outside your room it can seem like you are absolutely alone. With no-one to talk to except a mounting pile of coursework, you may be getting so desperate that you are considering accepting a friend request from your mum.

Your old friend The SPG is here with our top tips on how to get out there, in the big, wide scary student world and make friends at university. With any luck you can go from social caterpillar to…I don’t know, a caterpillar with more mates and a wider social circle? I mean come on, we’re not miracle workers. Anyway, here is The SPG’s best tips for making friends at university!

Societies are awesome. Join them!

Even the worst universities have a decent amount of student sports clubs and societies to join. A mutual interest is a great way to make friends. Joining up is as easy as going down to Socmart or the Fresher’s fair and for a couple of quid and your student number, you get a shiny membership card and a whole bunch of potential new friends.

Try to pick something that you’re genuinely interested in. There is nothing worse than sitting through the 8th society film night screening of “Men In Black 2” just because you fancied the treasurer of the Will Smith Society.

Try to pick something that meets up regularly. Getting together at the start of the term for an “I LOVE BADGERS!” knees-up is all well and good, but it’s not going to provide lasting friendships. Unless you both REALLY like badgers.

It’s OK to have friends you see for different things

Ok, you have joined a society and made some friends! Hooray! Let’s call him Skippy. Skippy the Tennis Friend. You go and play tennis together at the university gym every Tuesday afternoon! YAY Tennis! Yay Skippy! It is fun and magical. Then you discover there is another society which does karaoke nights! You LOVE karaoke! Everyone says your Rhinestone Cowboy is to die for!

You get Skippy to come along and…He hates it. He looks bored and his rendition of Barbie Girl was just awful. What gives? I thought you guys were friends? Friends do EVERYTHING together? SAY WHAAAT? Skippy, what the heck is wrong with you?

Except there is nothing wrong with Skippy. Or with you. Different people like different things. It’s good and healthy for friends to disagree on certain things and to want to do other things some times. You’re not joined at the hip. Have fun apart some times and the time you spend together will be even more fun.

Mutual friends do not instantly and magically like each other

TWO FRIENDS! Whoa! You’re doing pretty great there! You arrange for Skippy and your new friend Billy, (you met at the karaoke thing) to meet up at the pub. Soon the three of you will be having whacky and crazy adventures! You’re on the second pint and you go to the toilets, thinking of a group nickname. Maybe getting t-shirts printed with all the in-jokes you’ll share. Then when you get back, Skippy has got Billy in a headlock while Billy is screaming about how much he hates Skippy’s stupid haircut.

(To be fair, Skippy does have a stupid haircut).

Not everyone is going to be friends with everyone else on the planet. The only thing Skippy and Billy have in common is you. Take you out of the equation and there is no reason for them to ever socialise. It’s worth a shot to introduce people to each other, you never know- they might hit it off and you can get those “Skipp-Bill-And-The-Whizz” t-shirts printed after all. However, the best place to do this is at a house party, or a casual gathering. Forcing people to be friends never works.

Be yourself. Kind of.

Never lie to people about who you are. Trying to change yourself to make other people happy is a sure fire way of making yourself miserable.

That being said however, all social interaction involves a degree of self censorship. Part of making friends and being sociable is learning how to act in the right way at the right time. Learning when someone genuinely wants advice or when they just want a shoulder to cry on, is a tricky thing to learn for anybody. Sadly, this is not something that can be taught, especially not by a comedy student article on the Internet. The only way to do this is by getting out there and making mistakes.

So go and make some friends! Just make sure they don’t make fun of Skippy and his stupid haircut.

Jack Shannon is a former student, cook and author of The Book Of Streg
Follow him on Twitter: @Jack_Shannon