Credit: Gabriel Benois via Unsplash

How to make pals in a pandemic

By Caitlin Martin

Caitlin Martin offers some advice on making friends at university amid restrictions.

In normal times, starting university is a magical rite of passage full of opportunities to meet those lifelong uni friends you were promised. Freshers’ Week is portrayed as the ultimate coming of age sequence, with the promise that those first few days away from home will be full of themed events, hangovers, and an endless supply of Domino’s pizza deals. This year, like much in the world, things are a little different. 

With the social aspect of the university experience being equally as important as the academic, it’s integral that we keep this element of student life alive as we find ourselves increasingly isolated. 2020 has seen even the closest friends turn into long-distance ones. This, and the move to virtual spaces, can make us feel more alone than ever; I, for one, am thoroughly fed up with my own company. Life before Covid-19 seems like a distant memory. 

Despite this pesky pandemic, we can still make friends. We just have to be a little creative. Here are some tips to meet some new people “at uni” this semester, even if your time on campus is facilitated by the laptop in your bedroom right now: 

Firstly, remember that everyone is in the same boat. Incoming and returning students alike are open to making friends, so try not to feel too intimidated. With the lack of in-person classes and the ability to meet people in lectures, friendships within an online setting have the potential to develop and flow quickly. For those returning, don’t be afraid to reach out; people will be up for catching up even if that’s just a walk through Kelvingrove park at present. 

I know we’re all sick of Zooming, and that virtual socials often fall short of pub crawls, sub crawls, or an old-fashioned night in the union, but it’s worth logging on to meet some fresh faces. I promise it’s not usually as awkward as those dreaded breakout room ice breakers. Sure, some Zoom rooms can make you feel like the awkward new kid in an early 2000s teen movie, but you’re more likely to encounter welcoming hosts than you are to bump into a Regina George wannabe. Clubs and societies are working hard to adapt, with some pretty cool online socials taking place. Whether a pub quizzes, chat roulettes, streaming a movie, or games, there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends. 

Get involved! As mentioned, Glasgow has a plethora of societies which are a great way to meet new people. From beekeeping to badminton, there is something for everyone, so be sure to add yourself to Facebook groups and join in virtually. 

Don’t be afraid to pop up to new people. Coming back for a postgrad, I was worried about meeting new people and making course friends, but I’ve found that everyone is more than happy to chat. Social media is your friend, so use it to your advantage; it’s perfect for instigating conversations with classmates or people with similar interests. Though it can be nerve-wracking to start a conversation, I can guarantee that most people will appreciate the message. 

Most importantly, don’t give yourself a hard time. This year has asked a lot of us. Getting involved with new people in the current climate can be emotionally taxing. From laggy internet to never knowing if a joke truly landed, life online presents its own set of problems. Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Everyone is finding things hard and it is completely fine if you’re struggling – this isn’t exactly the year anyone envisioned. 

Here’s to hoping things can return to some normality soon, because I don’t know about you, but there’s a pint of fun calling my name. 


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