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Making Friends in Your First Year

Date:19 July 2019
Friends since day one
Friends since day one

Starting university and moving to a completely new city is exciting in and of itself! At the same time, the prospect of such a change can be slightly daunting. Moving away from your usual social groups can be difficult. Don’t worry though! Everyone is in the same boat and just waiting to meet new people. Below you'll find a few tips based on my own experiences: 

1/ At university:

Everyone coming into their first year is in the same boat. You’re all new to the city and the degree programme. In general, almost nobody knows anyone. Just start up conversations with your seat neighbours in your lectures and classes and see where that goes. I’m actually going on holiday this summer with two study friends; I met them both in the first week of classes. We sat next to each other and just started talking, realised we had a lot in common and stuck with it! 

2/ Sports-, Study- and Student Associations:

Joining one of the available associations is a great way to get yourself involved in different activities. Most programmes have study associations linked to them who organise events for their members. You can meet people from your study by going to these events or joining one of the committees. I was on the board for my study association. Your social network increases dramatically, you suddenly have the other people on the board who you meet up with, the different committee members who help you organize events, as well as going to the actual events with members. Bam. Instant friend groups who meet up on a weekly basis. There are also different sports- and student associations outside of your study programme that you can join. This is a great way of finding groups of people who share the same interests as you do. For example, I’m considering joining the Climbing association GSAC. It would help me improve my climbing, give me people other than my sister to practice with, and they organize social events outside of the sport which you can join.  

3/ The Introduction Weeks:

Joining the introduction weeks before university officially starts can be a great way of getting to know the city and meeting new people. The different faculties’ study associations usually have introduction week(end)s planned for incoming students as well. At these intro events, you’ll get to know your study mates better. The University also organizes a Welcoming Ceremony for incoming students. This includes the annual welcoming party where you can enjoy live music, snacks and dance (here’s a sneak preview into last year’s welcoming party). If you’re interested in finding out more about the two main introduction weeks in Groningen, check out this blog about my KEI-week and ESN introduction week experiences. 

4/ Take Courses:

You can follow a variety of sports-related courses, or more creative cultural ones. ACLO is the main overarching Student Sports Association in Groningen. You can follow a variety of courses such as bouldering, lacrosse and hip hop dance. I met one of my closest friends in the second year while taking a Lacrosse course. As a team sport, we had to communicate well and practice certain skills in pairs. We started talking and actually hanging out outside of the course. If you don’t like sports that much and prefer more creative options, look into USVA courses. USVA offers various artistic courses to students such as courses in film, improv comedy and drawing. This is a great way of developing your hobbies and talents as well as meeting new people.  

5/ It's a Spider Web:

Once you connect with someone you really enjoy spending time with, you somehow seem to connect with an increasing amount of people. Groningen seems smaller and smaller the longer I live here. I went to the gym the other day to meet up with a friend of mine and while I was waiting, I bumped into one of her friends (who I had never met before), but we knew of each other so we started talking. Then he saw someone he knew, who also happened to be my climbing instructor a year ago.  

Extra pro-tip: If people invite you over for a group dinner or something similar, say yes! Even if you don’t feel like it. The easiest way to meet new people and get a feel for how they are is through a mutual friend. Go to bigger social events, talk to people and just see how it goes.

How did you meet your closest university friends? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the author

Hi! My name’s Marije, and I study English Language and Culture. I’m half Dutch half German, but I grew up in Africa (starts thinking of suitable Mean Girls quotes to reference). When I’m not out, studying or writing something, I’m inside, wrapped in a blanket binge watching a new tv-show.


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