How I got past the small talk and made friends at uni

25 Nov 2021
By Alice S., Student at Liverpool John Moores University

It’s been over a year since I moved to Liverpool and started university. One of the things I was most nervous about was getting to know and make friends with my course mates.

I’ve never been that good at starting conversations with people, and the fact that I moved to a completely different country where I didn’t know anyone really didn’t help my nerves.

I was worried about feeling lonely and homesick, so decided to throw myself into things to try to avoid this. Below, you’ll find some of my top tips on how to become friends with other students if you’re new to uni or feeling lonely.

Join (or create) a group chat

There are usually a bunch of Facebook groups for freshers at your university, and it’s a great place to find or socialise with coursemates and potential friends. Join a group chat for your specific course, or start one if there isn’t one yet.

If you’re not very confident, this can be a really big help, as it gives you the opportunity to get to know people without the awkwardness you might feel in person. This group chat tends to turn into the place where you can complain or discuss uni questions that you might not want to talk to your tutors about.

It's also a great place to make plans with people. Tell them about a cool event you saw going on, or about a restaurant you walked past, and ask if someone wants to go with you. There are probably a lot of people in the same position as you, so if you take the initiative and ask, I guarantee someone is going to take you up on it.

Connect on social media

Looking up and following the people on your course is a great place to get conversation starters from. Their Instagram pictures can give you conversation ideas. For example, if they’ve uploaded a picture from their summer holiday, ask them what they did during the summer.

Getting away from the standard questions about their name, where they’re from and what A-levels they took will help you get a conversation going.

Go to events

Universities usually have a lot of different events going on throughout the year. If you find something that sounds like fun, invite someone from your course to come with you. It might help to get out of the ‘small talk bubble’ if you get away from the lecture hall and do something outside of the classroom.

One of my best memories from freshers’ week was when I actually got out of my comfort zone and went to get drinks with some people from my course. Even though I don’t drink, just going with them and getting away from the university environment helped ease the expectations of having to get to know someone.


Universities tend to have a wide range of societies focusing on different interests, so see if there are any you like the look of and join them.

While you might not become best friends with someone straight away, just being in the company of others who share your interests will help stop you from feeling lonely. And better still, you’ll be doing something that you enjoy.

As you may have noticed, the biggest thing about getting away from the small talk and really getting to know your course mates is to try to get away from class and try your best to relax.

University is a place where everyone is in the same position and everyone wants to fit in and make friends. It’s the perfect place to meet some amazing and interesting people, but just remember that it doesn’t always happen overnight.

Enjoyed this article? Give it a like
I’m a second year student at Liverpool John Moores University, where I’m studying English Literature and Creative Writing.