By Olivia Loughran, Third Year English
For many, the prospect of meeting fresh faces is the main draw to university. But whilst lectures guide you through your degree, there is no clear-cut curriculum for navigating your new social life.
We have all heard the classic advice of packing a doorstop to encourage flatmates into your room but whilst this may break the ice on the first day, what’s next? Fortunately, there are plenty of active ways to put yourself out there during your first few weeks at Bristol.
Connect with fellow freshers on Social Media
For those living in halls of residence, the university will email the names of your new flatmates a week before you move in. By connecting on Instagram and creating a group chat, the first day feels less like you’re moving in with complete strangers.
On Facebook, join UOB freshers groups and look through posts to see if anyone has commented that they’re your course. If so, ask to be added to a student-made course group chat where you can ask questions or offer to attend welcome talks together.
‘Asking questions about people’s interests and courses will also make interactions more memorable and positive’
Make an effort to get to know your flatmates, but remember they aren’t the only people out there
A poll conducted by Epigram revealed that 63 per cent of responding students felt that flatmates and mutual friends were the best way to meet new people. For some lucky students, those placed randomly in their flats will become lifelong friends, but this is commonly not the case.
Even if you do not instantly click with your flatmates, finding common ground and arranging to attend events together will give you the opportunity and confidence to meet other students.
By attending events such as Boardgames and Pizza at the Richmond Building as a flat, you each might meet people there who you are similar to. Asking questions about people’s interests and courses will also make interactions more memorable and positive.
The sizes of flats in halls of residence vary and if placed in a small flat, don’t be afraid to approach other flats in the building and introduce yourself.
Join a society or student group
For the students responding to Epigram’s poll, joining a society or student group is the next best way to meet new people.
For those who commute to university, attending events such as the SU non-halls mingle is a great way to build a community.
When deciding which student group to join, Bristol SU’s Welcome fair is a must. The annual event held on the downs will take place on Friday 22nd of September, and you’re guaranteed to leave with free goodies.
‘I met a great group of people outside of my halls with the same interests as me’
From music, sports, religious groups and volunteering, the landmark event showcases over 300 student groups at the university. Don’t be afraid to attend the event alone as committee members on each stall will be happy to chat and answer questions about their group.
Note down societies that interest you, then after the event select a few to attend taster or Give it A Go sessions.
The GIAG event programme demonstrates what each student group has to offer. Tailored towards new members and those joining alone, places can be booked ahead of time on the SU website.
Third-year Economics student, Reese, joined the Bristol Jets Cheer group in her first year. She reported: ‘I met a great group of people outside of my halls with the same interests as me. The training sessions and fun weekly socials have helped me make friendships for life.’
Try not to rely on friends from home
With Bristol welcoming over 5,000 students per year, it is no surprise that others from your hometown might be making the move with you.
It is important to not rely exclusively on friends from home in the first few weeks if your aim is to build new social circles.
While it might be useful to check in occasionally with each other for support, try to make an effort to connect with new friends first to avoid homesickness and isolation in the long term. A few weeks in, meet up as a group and you can all meet each other’s new friends.
‘Although Bristol is renowned for its incredible bars and clubs, try not to sacrifice the daytime for nights out’
Become engaged with your course
Dedicating time to your course and social life are not two separate efforts. Attending contact hours will familiarise you with your all-important coursemates.
After one too many the night before, rushing late into the lecture and hiding yourself and your hangover in the back won’t give you the best opportunity for making friends.
Try to turn up to your lectures and seminars a few minutes early so you can strike up a conversation before they begin.
Surprisingly, the poll revealed that no responding students felt that freshers club events were the best venues for putting yourself out there. Although Bristol is renowned for its incredible bars and clubs, try not to sacrifice the daytime for nights out.
Try reserving some charge in your social battery for inviting someone you meet in a seminar for a coffee or a study session, as support from coursemates is beneficial.
For non-drinkers, many of the SU Welcome events are alcohol-free, so while the drinking culture at uni often gets the most attention, there is still plenty out there for everyone.
Spend as much time on campus as possible
Exploring study spaces will increase your likelihood of meeting new people. The Global Lounge, on the first floor of Senate House, serves as a social, study and multicultural hub.
During freshers week, The Global Lounge is holding events to welcome international students with their Make Friends From Around the World: Coaster Design event, and Bristol Orientation Tours.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
The beauty of university is that throughout your time here, you will be continuously meeting new people. Try to not put too much pressure on yourself, and in no time the friendly faces will turn into friends.
Featured Image: Unsplash / Matthew Gerrard
How will you be meeting new people during freshers week?