By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor
University freshers week is synonymous with partying, trying new sports or societies, and just generally immersing into the university culture and socialising. Being a new student brings many opportunities to socialise and make new friends, whether it is within your lectures, going on a society social, or going to a club with your new flatmates. With the move to university often feeling isolating and overwhelming at first, it seems particularly important to find a group of friends to spend your free time with within the first few weeks as a student.
With the new coronavirus restrictions however, it seems like this year, getting fully involved in the social aspects of university is impossible. Due to the fact that many universities have moved freshers events and lectures online, as well as restrictions on social gatherings meaning that clubs and societies are limited in the types of socials they can have, new students are going to have to adapt the ways in which they meet new people and learn methods of socially distanced socialising.
Socialising with your flatmates
Some of the first people that you will meet if you move away from home for university are your new flatmates. This has not been changed by the new restrictions as much as other social situations, but it can often still seem daunting to interact with them for the first time.
Some effective ways to begin interacting with your new flatmates are simply by being present in the communal area of your flat or house, inviting them out somewhere for the day such as for food or a walk, or by going with them to one of the socially distanced freshers events that many universities such as Cardiff University are holding this year.
Due to the way in which coronavirus restrictions currently work, your flatmates will become your new household and so, you will also be able to socialise with them in more places such as bars and restaurants, where you may be unable to with other groups such as friends from your course or a society.
Joining sports and societies
Sports and societies are another effective method for meeting new people when you first join university. Although there are some changes to the ways in which societies and clubs can meet and interact, many sports are still able to go ahead and consequently participating in one is a good way of meeting new people while complying with the current coronavirus restrictions.
Some societies may also offer opportunities for socially distanced socialising such as virtual socials and events, so you will be able to meet new people regardless of government restrictions or any concerns that you may have about meeting in person.
Furthermore, going to a specific sports club or society also has the benefit of bringing people together based on a common interest or shared activity, and so you are likely to meet more people who share the same interests or attitudes as you.
Meeting people on your course
Perhaps what may seem to be the hardest social interactions to have during the current pandemic when starting university, are meeting people on the same course as you. This is because it is usually the case that these relationships are formed during lectures and seminars in-person which is not necessarily possible this year as many universities have taken to online teaching. This is not to say, however, that it is impossible to create relationships and socialise with the people on your course.
To begin meeting people on your course, interacting online during virtual seminars as well as within course-specific group chats may be a way to overcome the restrictions on face-to-face introductions. For example, participating in any course related discussions or simply introducing yourself in your course group chat can help you reach out to people on your course and make it known to others that you are willing to be social and have discussions either about the course you are studying, or any other specific interests that someone else within the chat may share.
Ultimately, many new students will find it particularly difficult to create situations where they can be social this year and so, learning methods of socially distanced socialising and finding new ways to meet people will be important if you want to immerse yourself in the social aspects associated with being a university student.