Here’s a confession: no matter what, everyone gets nervous about making friends at Uni, even local students.
Luckily, there are tons of on-campus opportunities and events to attend that will keep you busy and give you a chance to meet lots of new people.
Here are some of our top tips on making the most of the start of university and where you can meet people and make connections.
1. GO OUT AND EXPLORE
Your first day at University can seem daunting, but don’t let that feeling beat you. After you have made yourself at home, remember to leave the comfort of your room behind and look for things to do outside. We know the campus and its surroundings might seem different, so it’s important to look around, explore and ask questions.
Take time to familiarise yourself with lecture buildings and where main events will take place during Fresher’s week. It’s also a good idea to do a run-through of where your classes are so you won’t be late trying to find them on your first day.
If someone is hanging outside the same room as you waiting for a class or lecture, there’s a good chance they will be your classmate, and as you will be studying the same class you might have a shared interest too. So don’t be afraid to say Hi, everyone is in the same boat, and everyone is looking to make new friends.
“When you go abroad, there are always people who understand how it feels to be alone, not to speak the local language fluently, to be far away from everything and everyone you have ever known. You know what they are experiencing and help each other through until you feel completely comfortable with the situation. You just feel like you belong there, with them. In an atmosphere where there are many cultures coexisting together, you learn not only to tolerate, but also to appreciate.” (Anamika, Department of Government).
2. SPORTS, SU SOCIETIES AND NETWORKS
“The best way to make friends as a fresher is to make yourself stand out. Go up to people at the bar or in squares, chat with people on the Facebook group - don’t be afraid to start a conversation. If you see someone wearing something you like, tell them (you wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve met in the bathroom by doing just this). Just put yourself out there and don’t be shy, everyone’s just as new as you are!” (Hania, School of Biological Sciences)
Just play is a great way to meet new people at Loughton, there are a lot of fun, one-off sessions available to try, so why not try something new (and have a laugh with someone when it doesn’t go quite right), or have a go at a sport or session you know well to find others with similar interests.
Colchester also has Just Play sessions which are a great way to make new friends.
But there are also a series of sports you can involve in too. Colchester has two brilliant facilities for sport. There are courts for all different sports and activities which you can book in to, there’s a gym and there are a whole series of classes that you can sign up to. The classes are a great way to find new friends while getting a regular dose of exercise. Read more here.
The SU also have a whole host of team sports you can get involved in, and you can even compete as a part of Essex Blades. Team sports are a fantastic way of meeting new people and making new friends and there are lots of clubs to choose from. Take a look at the list here.
You can also join an Essex Blades team at Southend campus too (or start your own if there isn’t a team for a sport you love). And they also have their own Just Play scheme too.
There are also a lot of SU Societies you can get involved in which is another great way to meet new people and make lasting friendships.
At Loughton campus, you can join Black Theatre, Contemporary Theatre, and Stage Combat
At Colchester, there are many societies to choose from based on arts, activities, culture, departments, religion, politics and music. There’s everything from Harry Potter, to Pokémon Go, Theatre Arts to Philosophy, Indian to Italian, Metal to K-Pop, LGBTQ+ to Feminist, and so much more. Check out the full list of 168 groups here to find something you are interested in.
And if you can’t find a society to represent your interests, here’s how to start one of your own.
As part of your SU membership, you can also join up to networks, such as BAME and LGBT+, which cover different cultures and minority groups, giving you the chance to meet people from similar backgrounds.
Southend campus is home to a BAME students’ network and an LGBT+ students’ network.
Colchester is home to:
- Black students network
- Asian students network
- Students with disabilities
- International students
- LGBT+ students
- Mature students
- Postgraduate students
- Student parents
- Women students
Find out more on essex.su
3. GET TO KNOW YOUR FLATMATES
Another important part of your journey is to get along with the people you will live with for the next year.
Try to spend some time in communal areas such as your flat’s kitchen or your accommodation’s lounge.
Flatmates are great company for when the weather demands hot cuppas and binge-watching Netflix series, so get to know them.
You will notice that the University’s accommodation is very international, which is a great experience and allows you to learn so much about other cultures and backgrounds. If you are an international student you might even end up being friends with native English speakers – which is a great way to improve your language skills.
“No matter what age, we all remember the uncertainty and maybe even the anxiety when entering a new place, where we know no one and where we have to start again. Being a fresher at university is no different from that and the best thing that you can do is throw yourself in there. Don’t be lazy and waste your first year because you will never get it back! So check out the SU website and look at all the opportunities that you can grab.” (Ann, Sociology Department)
4. JOIN THE RELEVANT FACEBOOK PAGES
Right before the beginning of each academic year, the Students Union creates a brand new Fresher’s Facebook page with thousands of new members. Find the 2019-20 page here.
Feel free to post your questions on there and get to know who will be joining Essex or the same course as you.
Also, your Resident Assistants (students who are trained to help you with any accommodation-related issues) will be responsible for creating pages for your accommodation, giving you the opportunity to meet future flatmates in advance.
Make the most of our SU websites and social media to engage, keep up to date with what’s on, and ask questions (or send us memes, it’s really up to you) throughout the year.
@essexsu for Colchester students, @southendsu for Southend students and @east15su for Loughton students.
“Making friends as an international student can be very hard, especially with the culture shock and language barrier. The best way to make friends is to be open about yourself and be active on campus. Always embrace new experiences, new perspectives, and new people – this way you are sure to meet people who you will get along with.” (Benjamin, Department of Government)
5. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
If you are an international student, being in a new country might make you feel like a minority, but being part of our Essex community means you are in luck. Our campus has one of the highest numbers of international students, with students from over 140 countries – it’s the perfect place to share your culture and learn from others too. There are many international events that take place on campus throughout the year, such as the Diwali, the International Food Festival and One World Essex. Contact your VP International Jake, to obtain more information about events and to find out how to get involved.