A Glassie’s Guide to Making Friends at Uni

Welcome Glassies, to your guide to life. This series takes a deep dive into all your pressing need-to-knows (how to contact your local MP, how to make the perfect cocktail, and how to get over your ex, goddamnit) and offers comprehensive guides so that you can live your Best Glassie Life™.    

This edition is A Glassie’s Guide to Making Friends at Uni.

You’re sitting on the bus heading to your first week of classes, and your stomach is in knots. It feels like you have been looking forward to starting university forever, but now the day is actually here, you can’t help but feel anxious. Your mind is racing with negative thoughts. What if everyone is way cooler than me? What if they already have friends and no one wants me in their group? What if I never make any friends and end up spending all my time alone in the library?!  

Don’t worry, dear reader. We have all been there. Whether this is your first semester at uni, you’re returning after taking some time off, or are halfway through your degree, most of us have struggled with this during our educational journey. Making new friends as an adult can seem like an incredibly daunting endeavour, so your editors here at Glass have come up with some fool-proof tips for making new friends at uni. 

Go to tutorials 

This might seem like an obvious tip, but I feel very strongly about its position as the most important one in this guide. In-person learning is back in full swing and lockdowns are (hopefully) a thing of the past. This is where you will actually get to meet people (not to mention learn unit content and get face-to-face time with your tutors). Tutorials are the perfect place to meet new people. Particularly since most of us get into the habit of sitting in the same spot every week, which makes it much easier to strike up conversations with those around you.  

Also, most classes include some sort of group work or collaboration, which works as a great icebreaker. Group work doesn’t always guarantee an instant bestie, but I have met some very cool people through randomly allocated group assignments. In fact, one of my oldest and closest friends was someone I was always put into classes with because our last names both start with the same letter. Ten years later and our friendship is still going strong! 

Join a QUT Student Guild club, society or Collective 

QUT has dozens of clubs and societies for virtually any interest or study area. From the Economics and Finance Society to QUT Marvel, you are bound to find something you’re interested in or a club relevant to your degree. This is a great way to meet like-minded people and you already know you have at least one thing in common. While some clubs are general-interest-based (like the Music Society), there are many niche groups that focus on one specific study area (like the Student Pharmacy Association).  

If you meet someone who is doing the same degree as you and you hit it off, you could even try to join the same tutorials and connect online. This way you not only get a study buddy to keep you company in the library on those long nights when everything is due all at once, but also someone who gets what you’re going through. This method is doubly effective if they already have a group of friends you can join.  

Most clubs run regular in-person or online events, and all clubs are run by students. Check out the QUT Student Guild website for more information about the clubs, societies and collectives here at QUT. 

Strike up conversations 

This is undoubtedly the most difficult tip in this guide to master. Striking up a conversation with a stranger seems terrifying and, for a lot of people, virtually impossible. The trick is to choose the right moment. Standing in line waiting for the toilets at the Gardens Point library? Not such a great time. Browsing in the bookshop and someone picks up that overpriced textbook you just reluctantly bought? Perfect timing. Standing outside the classroom while waiting for your tutorial to start, browsing the QUT Art Gallery at GP, or bulk buying sour lollies at the KG General Store are all fantastic times and places to test out your conversational skills.  

If you’re a recent school leaver, your first instinct will probably be to ask everyone you meet what high school they went to. We suggest steering away from this topic. We can’t ignore the fact that there are imbalances of power that come with attending certain schools, and getting into a political debate about private vs state school funding probably won’t lead to a productive and positive friendship-making experience. Not to mention, if high school is the only thing you have in common, your friendship might not be a lasting one. We suggest you try topics like the latest Netflix special (I think most people on Earth have seen Wednesday by now), asking their opinion on which on-campus café has the best coffee, or any relevant campus news (hey, have you read Glass?) 

Bonus tips for online students  

Online study can make it extremely difficult to make friends. You only see or hear each other on Zoom once a week, you can’t hit up Gather before going for a study session at the Kelvin Grove library, and most of the time you don’t even know what your classmates look like. Check out these bonus tips curated specially for those of you who study remotely: 

  • Turn on your camera during Zoom tutes! Not only is this really helpful for your tutor to get to know you, you can also subtly check out the other people in your tutorial and scope out if anyone looks like your kind of person. What do they have in their background? Are they wearing merch from your favourite band? Do they have really cool glasses? Conversation starters aplenty.  
  • Clubs and societies aren’t only for on-campus students – most groups have active social media accounts where you can chat about your interests, see what the group is up to, and check out their online events. Make sure you also follow the Student Guild social media pages. 
  • Join some student Facebook groups. These groups are great places to keep on top of what is happening on campus, and there are literally dozens of groups to join. Simply search for ‘QUT’ on Facebook and see what comes up. Keep in mind that most groups are not affiliated with the university and are run by students.  
  • Listen to Talkerspace on 4ZZZ. Talkerspace is a weekly radio show hosted by Brisbane university students that dives deep into uni culture, and play tracks from artists who currently study or recently graduated from universities around Brisbane. You can catch up on uni news and support a community radio station.  
  • Read Glass and follow us on our socials. We work hard to keep the student body informed about important university news, entertain you with relevant articles, and to connect students with their union, the Student Guild. We are also always looking for great student writers – think about getting involved and submitting your work. 

Follow some of these tips, and you are bound to make at least a couple of friends. I can’t promise that it will happen quickly or without some hiccups, but it will happen eventually. Trust me Glassies, it will be worth it.  

Celeste Muller
Celeste Muller

Celeste (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and Editor at Glass Media. She has a Bachelor's degree in Design (Interior Design) and is currently studying Journalism and Economics at QUT.

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