Making friends at university

19 October 2022

five students socialising

Article written by Elise Bowes, Student Communications Officer, and recent Oxford Brookes BA Film graduate

University can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, but it’s also normal to feel anxious or lonely at times. It’s good to remember that everyone is different: some people take quickly to new environments and others need more time to settle in, and both of these are okay.

When I started at Oxford Brookes, I lived in private accommodation and commuted into campus, so I naturally felt a bit out of the social loop. That feeling of isolation was only exacerbated when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. However, as time went on I discovered lots of ways to put myself out there, build some wonderful friendships, and thoroughly enjoy my university experience. 

Here are some of my top tips for making friends at Brookes:

If you need extra support

If you’re feeling isolated or you just need some extra support, Student Support Services has teams of trained professionals to help and advise you. This video can help you find out where to go to ask for support. If you’re not sure who to contact or can’t find what you need, please contact Student Support Services on studentsupportservices@brookes.ac.uk or 01865 484650.

Join societies, networks and clubs

Joining a society or student network is a truly rewarding experience and it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests as you. My involvement in societies led me to meet some of my best friends at Brookes, who I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to interact with otherwise. Fresher’s Fair is a great opportunity to explore Brookes Union’s wide range of student societies and networks, chat with committees and sign up to events. With so many to choose from, you’re likely to find something that interests you, but if not, you could always start your own! 

And don’t worry, if you missed Fresher’s Fair this year, there’s always Re-Fresher’s Fair in January - keep an eye on the Brookes Union webpage and sign up to the official Fresher’s mailing list for reminders and updates. Also, make sure to check out the Brookes Sport webpage to find information about the University's variety of clubs and sporting events. Try to step outside of your comfort zone and have a go at a new hobby - you might surprise yourself! 

Socialise with your classmates

One of the best places to make friends at university is in your classes and lectures. You already have something in common with your classmates, which makes it easier to start conversations and get to know each other. Organising a study group is a good way to bond with your peers, and it can help you to feel supported and motivated about your studies. Remember that you can book a room on campus to help you focus on group work.

Jazz band playing

Take part in extracurricular activities

Participating in extracurricular projects and activities is a fantastic way of gaining experience while socialising. For example, if you’re a budding entrepreneur, you could take advantage of Brookes Enterprise Support initiatives to meet like-minded people and kick-start your own business. If music is more your thing, you could start a band or join one of Brookes’ music groups. During my BA Film course at Brookes, I met lots of talented people and gained valuable experience by helping out on film sets and sharing scripts with my classmates. If you do choose to take part in extracurricular activities, BrookesEDGE can help you make the most of your achievements so you can stand out in the job market!

Get a part-time job or volunteer

Getting a part-time job while at university is a good way of interacting with people outside of your social bubble, as well as making money and gaining work experience. The University’s Careers team is available to help you apply for jobs, practice interviews, manage your time and much more. There are lots of flexible jobs that you can fit around your studies - check out the Brookes careers portal to start applying. 

Alternatively, you can visit the Volunteer Centre for opportunities to get involved and make a positive difference in your local community!

students volunteering in a field

Take an active role

If you’re up for the challenge, taking a more active, student-facing role at the University is another way to find a sense of belonging and boost your CV. You could sign up to become a Student Ambassador, run for a Brookes Union Officer position or represent the views of your classmates by becoming a Course Rep

two students meeting in a park with hedgehogs on the ground near a bench

Get involved with University events

Brookes also hosts a wide range of events and activities throughout the year which are worth taking advantage of. For example, you could attend a Hedgehog Friendly Campus litter pick, or go to one of the Multifaith Chaplaincy’s community events. Have a look at this handy Autumn ‘what’s on’ calendar to see a snapshot of the events and activities taking place in and around campus over the next few weeks. Also, make sure you stay up to date with Student News emails to discover more opportunities to get involved and stay connected with the rest of the Brookes community. 

As you can see, there are lots of resources and opportunities available to help you get involved and meet friends at Brookes, but it’s up to you to choose which ones suit you. The best advice I can give you is to keep an open mind, be kind to yourself and others, and don’t rush - you’ll find your people when you’re ready. Good luck!

Get in touch

If you’ve got other ideas that you’d like to share for ways for students to meet others, please let us know by emailing BrookesCommunications@brookes.ac.uk and we’ll share in a future issue of Student News.