How to make friends at university as an introvert (UK)

In this post we will go trough a very controversial topic, how to make friends at university? The truth is that this topic is being “commercialised”, that’s why I’m calling it controversial.

Best education and learning quotes
Best education and learning quotes

There is only one real method, which is to be yourself, and it is here that you should put your focus on. At least that’s what I did to make real friends at university, and trust me I struggled!

As a shy and introverted person, who would constantly feel judged and pretty much regretted any word that came out of my mouth two seconds after; this was one of the hardest part of my university experience.

One of my favourite quotes on this topic:

  • “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.” – Arthur Schopenhauer.

By the end of this post this quote will make more sense to you..

The truth about making friends at university

As I said above, this topic has been commercialised, but what does that mean? Simple, you will always get the same answers, no matter what.

You might ask how to make friends at university as a shy or introvert person; or maybe how to make friends in your first year of university; or in class; or at the library; what about how to make friends in a student accommodation? Whatever, you will get something along those lines:

“join as many societies as possible”; “get your fresher week pass/wristband!”; “sign up to the university gym”; “go clubbing for university student nights”; “go to student flat parties”, “nights out, drinks and then more drinks” etc; and I’m sure you have seen those and more.

It seems that in order to make friends at university you have embrace the drinking culture and do what they want you to do.

This (regardless of weather or not it involves money), in my opinion means it’s a business.

Even worse when they do that even before you start university. They rush you to sign up and purchase as many things as possible! Again, clearly a business in my view.

Be yourself!

Let’s be clear here, there is nothing wrong in those activities above (drinking debatable), I tried most of them. I’ll talk about that later in the post where I’ll explain how I made real friends as an introvert.

The thing that upsets me the most is that nobody really tells you: in order to make friends at university, “JUST BE YOURSELF”. It is really that simple, trust me!

I am not saying you shouldn’t try those, you actually should (you never know what you really like or don’t until you tried it); but what I’m saying is not to have expectations to make friends!

The real purpose should simply be to try new things, find out more about yourself and your interests.

So you are sold this lie that you will make tons of friends while doing those. Then when it doesn’t happen, you start to think something is wrong with you, and you will never make any friends at university.

After all, everybody else is already in groups and having fun, so the problem is with you only, right?

How is university life as an introvert?

As an introvert I always liked to have my own space, a “safe zone”. This meant that I had days that I spent completely alone; and in all honesty I loved that aspect!

If I wasn’t in the mood, I would spend time in my room watching tv series and gaming (while studying in bits). I would get uni things done and also spend time by myself, what’s wrong with that?

And yes, I still managed to make friends, but not at the beginning.. I wasted a lot of time looking for ways to make friends, so don’t make my same mistake, be yourself..!

See, the problem is that society makes you believe something is wrong with you if you are an introvert. I enjoyed having company time to time, but also my time alone, sometimes a lot.

So again, what’s the problem with that?

This pressure makes you move away from who you really are, making friends becomes an obsession . So you start doing things you don’t really like hoping to be “accepted”.

Let me tell you something, you will never be accepted into groups or make any friends at university if you do that! Just think about it, why are these people together in the first place?

Because they have something in common, similar interests and personalities! It’s not that they met with the intention of making friends, they just met in environments they are comfortable in.

The rest comes natural, as this enables them to have conversions around arguments they like! The truth is that those arguments are not what you are really interested in, you just like the idea of being accepted!

Basically, it’s not that you can’t make friends at university, you are simply looking in the wrong places!

“Do this, do that” to make friends at university

The reality is that as a shy and introverted person you are most likely going to hate things that involve large groups, chaos, random “invasive” people asking lots of questions (not to even mention when they are drunk).

There is nothing wrong with you, oh actually yes: you are doing things you don’t like; you are not following your interests; you are not being honest with yourself!

“I don’t drink, how can I make friends at university?”

If you don’t like clubbing, or maybe don’t fancy drinking alcohol, then you shouldn’t go clubbing just because that’s how you will make friends at university, because it’s a lie!

You will most likely feel uncomfortable, and even worse make a fool out of yourself if you don’t like clubbing or don’t fancy drinking.

How exactly would that help you make friends at university? On the opposite, it might actually crash your confidence. It happened to me, so I know what it means to be considered “boring”..

Should you join a society? It depends..

If you don’t have an interest for a society you shouldn’t join one just to make friends at university. Again, it won’t work for the same reason, you are not interested!

Guess what happens when you try to get into something without having a genuine interest for it? You will sound uninterested, no matter how hard you try (people are not stupid).

As a consequence, people won’t find you interesting! So when you try to approach someone or a group to start a conversation or to get into one (a very hard and weird thing to do as a shy person), you will not fit in.

Speak freely about your interests to make friends at university

The first thing you need to “fix” is your self respect, and being capable of speaking freely about you is a very good start. It doesn’t matter how weird it might sound in your head, don’t be afraid to express yourself.

You’ll be surprised to see how many people might actually share your same interests.. but you will never find them unless you talk about them.

Never be ashamed of what your hobbies/passions, because those can help people understand who you are without needing you to be fake..

Do you like gaming? Talk about it! What kind of games, why those, when you usually play, are you good at it? Do you like watching movies/tv series? What are your favourite to watch?

For example, I used to watch anime. You cannot imagine how long I kept it “secret” as I was afraid of people’s reaction. I was scared I would be judged and considered “childish”, a weirdo to say it all…

Improve your self confidence at university!

I wasted a lot of time fighting my inferiority complex, I hope you don’t make my same mistake. The first thing to do as a shy and introverted character is to fix your confidence!

You have to understand that there is nothing wrong with you, it is just your character. Let me stress this, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU, being shy is not something negative.

I wrote an entire post on how to boost your confidence at university, I struggled a lot with it, you might find it useful!

Initially I thought my age was the problem (I started uni at 26), but it wasn’t.. the real problem was my lack of confidence, luckily I managed to fix it.

How I made friends at university as an introvert, few examples

I didn’t like clubbing that much, I simply did not fit into the “drink until you pass out” culture. Chaos and drunk people all around had never been my cup of tea.

However, the few times I tried it made me realise I kind of enjoyed music environments. Going to a club alone is unusual (and weird), plus I wouldn’t have fun.

On the other hand, I started going to pubs for live music events by myself. Firstly, that didn’t make me look (and feel) like a weirdo, as it is completely normal.

Secondly, it didn’t take long for me to notice few people from my class. It was actually them that approached me with “are you alone?”.

It all started from there, I found people with similar interests (just some chill out live music, not getting wasted, respectful conversations, good laughs!)

I’m not saying we became super friends, but we made a whatsapp group to meet up every now and then for pub nights (I’d say I joined a couple of times a month).

Oh remember the “I don’t drink alcohol can I make friends at university?” Well, I never liked getting wasted, but I certainly enjoyed a couple of pints or wine glasses.

They made me talk more “smoothly” at times and help me get into conversations without overthinking.

Group projects are great to make friends at university!

Another example, and something that is often overlooked to make friends at university, are group projects! In my opinion, one of the best way actually.

It doesn’t matter what subjects you study, you most likely will have group projects of 5 to 10 people max.

Although sometimes they are not that fun workwise, they also are a great opportunity to make friends!

I struggled to fit into conversations outside of the academic topics of course. Again, at the beginning I thought it was because of my age.. but it wasn’t! I was scared of being judged, it was my inferiority complex yet again.

Guess what changed everything? My passion for anime! During one of our group meetings I heard two of my classmates (a guy and a girl) talking about an anime I watch.

It took me a good dose of courage but I stepped into the conversation “revealing” my passion.

We obviously spent LOTS of time talking about anime everyday, we would chat on social, send each other memes and so on. Basically, we became friends!

Making friends at university, conclusions

I wanted to give some examples of how I made friends at university without falling into the rhetoric of “do this and that”.

The reality is that if you have to do something you don’t like just to make friends, you will never make any. If you need to “change yourself” to be accepted by others, it will never be true friendship.

Most importantly, if others consider you boring, forget about them! They will never be your friends. They will most likely try to avoid you and hurt your feelings, move on! You deserve better.

I made friends at university despite being an introvert. I haven’t changed, I just started to express my interests with confidence.

Be yourself, always!

All that time trying to make friends at university made me understand one thing: I will always be an introvert, it’s just me.

Guess what? Most of the friends I made at uni understood and respected that. If you find people with similar interests, you will have more meaningful conversations, genuine laughs, real support!

I still loved solitude.. my safe zone! Remember the quotes now? “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”Arthur Schopenhauer.

I really hope this long post about my experience as an introvert at university can help you understand one thing: YOU ARE UNIQUE!

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