Societies, social media and being keen: The Tab’s guide to making friends at uni

7. Relax, everything will work out in the end


Another year has gone by and the time is almost here…. Freshers’ Week.

Get ready to see flares, mullets and puffer jackets occupying Edi’s streets in their masses as the newbie Pollock freshers get accustomed to uni life.

Whilst exciting, Freshers’ Week can be equally daunting. You’ve essentially just been dropped off in an entirely new place, knowing absolutely no one and left to fend for yourself, and, of course, everyone’s main priority is finding friends.

Though navigating the process of making new friends at uni may be a scary prospect, rest assured, The Edinburgh Tab have got you covered:

1. Join societies

This one might seem pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually do it. The truth is, the kind of people you meet in your accommodation is pretty much down to pure luck, and the best way for you to meet like-minded individuals with similar interests to you is to join societies. The University of Edinburgh has a great number of societies ranging from sport, wine, music and more, most of which will host frequent socials that provide you with a chance to make friends AND have a good night out (the perfect combo).

2. Make the most of social media

If you’re currently a fresher reading this and are yet to join a freshers’ group chat, this is your sign to do it now! Let’s be honest, the pandemic has ruined pretty much all forms of socialisation, but if there’s one thing it’s shown the importance of, it’s social media.

Social media is such an important tool when it comes to making friends and can be strategically used to benefit you prior to even setting foot in Edinburgh. Join Facebook accommodation group chats, course group chats and, if you can find it, a chat specific to your floor / flat. Group chats really are the perfect way to get a head-start on meeting people and can ease you into socialising before you actually arrive.

Likewise, once you’ve arrived at university and actually met some people in the flesh, keep using social media to stay in contact with them. Don’t be embarrassed to ask people for their Facebook or Instagram and send them a quick message to ask them what their night-out plans are or invite them out for a coffee.

3. Don’t worry about looking desperate 

I can’t stress enough how freshers is the one time in your life that you can be 100 per cent unashamedly desperate to make friends. Nobody is going to look at you weirdly if you randomly infiltrate a conversation with a drink in hand and introduce yourself. In fact, the likelihood is they’ll really appreciate the ice-breaker and admire your confidence.

The truth is, everyone really is just as desperate to make friends as you are, and this is your chance to completely put yourself out there and meet as many people as humanely possible. There’s no point in trying to act cool or unfazed in Freshers’ Week.

P.s. if people seem judgemental or look at you weirdly for making the first move or appearing over-enthusiastic to meet new people, you probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway. Steer clear of those individuals.

4. Don’t close yourself off too early

Even if you’ve been lucky enough to find some great friends in freshers, don’t let this deter you from continuing to put yourself out there and take up offers to meet new people. Remember that things (and people) can change very quickly at the start of university, and it’s not uncommon for people to drift from their freshers friends in the first month or so.

Making bonus friends can only be a good thing, and it’s highly counter-intuitive to shut yourself off so early on from meeting people who could possibly be your future best friends.

5. Trust your gut

Though I’ve just stressed the importance of not closing yourself off to people you’ve just met and remaining open to meeting all different kinds of people, if you instinctively feel that someone you’ve crossed paths with isn’t the right person for you, there really is no obligation to maintain contact with them.

Within freshers you will meet almost every type of person possible and, unfortunately, some of them may be far from what you’re looking for in a friend. Don’t waste your time trying to force conversation with someone if they appear uninterested and, equally, don’t feel the need to compromise your boundaries or beliefs  just to “fit in.” If it feels forced, unnatural or, crucially, unsafe, get yourself out of that social situation and remind yourself that there are plenty more people you will meet who will be better suited.

6. Don’t let all of your social interactions revolve around alcohol

It’s no secret that a lot of Freshers’ Week revolves largely around nights out, pre drinks and alcohol. In fact, it’s likely that a lot of the people you initially meet will be when you’re drunk, and you may not even remember them the next morning. Whilst drinking and nights out are fun, they’re certainly not the only way of meeting people, and realistically it can be somewhat difficult to properly get to know someone three Gari’s specials down and over the blaring sound of 80s hits.

Don’t just rely on nights out as a way of establishing friendships, use them as a springboard into creating other social events with the people you’ve met – go food shopping with your new-found friends, explore the city of Edinburgh together or even simply go and grab a cup of coffee.

Not only will this enable you to get to know these people on a deeper level and properly bond, but it will also save you time making plans to go on future nights out with people who you don’t actually like when sober.

7. Relax, everything will work out in the end:

Freshers’ Week is not the be all and end all for friendships, far from it in fact. Enter into the week with reasonable expectations and remind yourself that it’s perfectly natural (and extremely common) to leave freshers without a solidified friendship group or having found ‘your people’.

Not only will you continue to meet people throughout the weeks following freshers, but also throughout the entirety of your university experience, with each semester and year that follows a new opportunity to widen your social circle.

Please remember that freshers really is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plethora of new and interesting people you will meet throughout your time at university so don’t place too much pressure on yourself to get everything all sorted within the first seven days.

8. Write for The Edinburgh Tab

I may be biased but one of the best ways I’d recommend meeting new people is writing for The Tab. You don’t need any writing experience, there’s no special invites, and you don’t even need banging ideas from the jump – really anyone can write for The Tab.

We have regular socials and meetings that are always a good laugh. You can also write as much or as little as you want and there’s no commitment to write so it fits really easily in with your degree.

If you’re interested, join The Edinburgh Tab Writers’ Group on Facebook,  DM us on Instagram @TheTabEdinburgh, or contact the editors – Sophie Butcher and Viola Baker.

Recommended related articles by this writer

• Flares, pantry parties, and the JMCC: The Tab’s guide to Pollock Halls

• The Tab’s guide to Edinburgh’s different neighbourhoods

Flares? At Edinburgh? Ground-breaking: The Tab’s guide to Edi’s fashion trends