Moving to the UK to study? Here’s how to make friends

10 Jul 2018
By Lucia I., Student at Aston University

Relocating thousands of miles away for university is exciting. Meeting new people. Learning about new cultures. Studying in a completely different environment. They’re all things you can look forward to before you start. But, for me, there was one small worry.

Making new friends might not be so easy. I felt as if the pool of people who were similar to me was about to get a lot smaller.

It is natural to feel nervous about leaving home for a new country, and new people.

So, if you are about to move to a new continent, here are some tips for making friends at university.

1) Join societies that remind you of home

Here at Aston, where I study, there are many societies to choose from. And it’s the same at universities all over the UK.

You could just find the ones that are a perfect fit in terms of your home culture - the African-Caribbean society or the Christian society, for example. Or you could join up with people who share your interests. Like Game of Thrones? There’s a society for that.

Making the effort to surround yourself with likeminded people will help alleviate any feelings of loneliness.

2) Be brave and start a conversation

In order to make friends, sometimes you may have to take charge of the situation and be the one who instigates a conversation. Literally everywhere you go there is someone to talk to - the lecture hall, the kitchen of your shared flat, Tesco, in the elevator.

It is natural to feel nervous about leaving home for a new country, and new people.
Want to know a great conversation starter? Compliment.

Once, I complimented a girl’s makeup and now I’m in her room all the time. I am proof that it works!

Keep an open mind and push yourself to make a little more effort than usual.

3) Branch out of your comfort zone

It is understandable to attach yourself to people of the same background as you, especially when you are thousands of miles from home. However, there are so many different people at university, it would be a missed opportunity if you didn’t branch out and make a great variety of friends.

Besides meeting some great new people, you can learn from them about other countries, cultures, customs, and foods. It is a good way of expanding your horizons, as well as starting a list of places you would like to visit!

Most shared accommodation will have a mix of different nationalities. Why not start by having a dinner party where everybody cooks a traditional dish that reminds them of home?

4) Get involved in events and trips

Very frequently, Aston’s student union organises fun trips to different cities in the UK. Each one is an opportunity to create wonderful memories and familiarise myself with another city.

Engaging in exciting activities such as this is a great way to explore, connect with people, and feel less lonely. Look out for new events on your union and university websites.

It is natural to feel nervous about leaving home for a new country, and new people. But it is exciting too. Keep an open mind and push yourself to make a little more effort than usual, and you will find opportunities to meet people everywhere.

Keep an open mind and push yourself to make a little more effort than usual.
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Lucia is an Economics and Management student in Birmingham. at Aston University