This content mentions loneliness or isolation, which some people may find triggering.
Making friends and building connections with people at university can look and feel different from person to person. We spoke to some students about their experience making connections at university and the things that impacted this.
Holly is a recent graduate from the University of Lincoln, here's what she had to say about her experiences at university.
The power of using discernment – don’t be a follower!
Looking back at certain moments at university I can pinpoint times when I knew I was in the wrong place or around people that weren’t for me. I would almost feel a knot in my stomach that I could not shake, even if I attempted to convince my own mind over and over again that I was comfortable and happy here. There are plenty of times I wish I had listened to this voice instead of ignoring it, especially in environments and functions where alcohol was the main part of socialising.
Although I was someone who was comfortable drinking socially, at times I wish I had been more selective in terms of who I chose to drink with socially. Being observant in my environment helped me to realise who I enjoyed and felt safe drinking around. Once I achieved this, this made life easier, as different people have different intentions.
Building connections this way can determine the difference between making amazing memories with friends you will cherish for a lifetime, and having a memory you will want nothing more but to erase from your mind forever. Whether you are a social drinker or you don’t drink alcohol at all, always feel confident to put your feelings and preferences first, and known to those around you.
There is a difference between doing things out of your comfort zone that will benefit you in the long term, and doing something you are uncomfortable with in order to ‘fit in’. If you are new to drinking or have no interest in drinking due to religion or lifestyle, you can still navigate your way around having fun at university this way.
There can be feelings of loneliness at any stage of university, but especially in the beginning. Although sticking to any group you find may seem like a quick and convenient solution to this, being selective is the best way to find like-minded people and develop quality bonds.
You must remember not all company is good company, and friendship is something where quality over quantity is vital. Continuing to be yourself and participating in things you enjoy will naturally draw people with similar mindsets and values to you. There are plenty of activities, such as having picnics, going out for lunch and dinner/ society events, having mocktails as an alternative to alcoholic drinks, cinema, having movie nights and physical activities such as mini golf and go carting!
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