Bear in mind that Uni-life is not just about the hard skills you signed up for, no – you’ll gain much expertise in the soft-skills-sector, and an important part of that is surely how to build networks and maintain relations. Photo from Oulu Student Magazine's archive.

Don’t be a social-life-pooper – how to make friends in University

The academic year started, and chances that also you are new in a strange environment are pretty high. While some people feel in heaven indulging in new adventures and curiously examining their classmates, for others having to start from scratch with total strangers sounds like a nightmare come true. So what to do if you’re a social grump but aim at staying sane and healthy?

In English  | 

Text Bianca Beyer

Trying to overcome the horrendous obstacles of having to talk to complete strangers about something seemingly unimportant sounds like quite a quest. Especially for Finns, who are not exactly known for their great small-talk-skills, it can become extremely difficult to break the mould.

Not seldom, lecturers adjust the requirements for group work because Finnish students are just too uncomfortable to bond with strangers and sweat over solving problems together. Forcing them would not really help, either: The social anxiety grows in stress situations, and the student ends up even lonelier than before.

Bear in mind that Uni-life is not just about the hard skills you signed up for, no – you’ll gain much expertise in the soft-skills-sector, and an important part of that is surely how to build networks and maintain relations.

Teamwork is not a rare encounter when starting work life, and acquiring and sustaining connections might be crucial on the job hunt. So why not take the start of a new era as an opportunity to practice your people’s skills?

Easier said than done, you might think. But it really doesn’t need to be that hard. Challenge yourself, but don’t overwhelm your capacities. If you are an anti-social loner who doesn’t know how to keep up a conversation, hitting a party all by yourself might not end well for you.

Take baby-steps! Start with the person sitting next to you. Talk about relevant things; discuss something from the material, for example. Ask questions! If you don’t know how to ‘blabber’, or you don’t really want to, find out more about them. Maybe they are just as shy as you and glad you show interest? Once the ice is broken, conversation will start to flow. And you’ll be glad to have a partner in crime when you miss a class and need to borrow some notes.

Joining any kinds of student or sport clubs is also a good start. Especially in bigger groups it can often be easier to engage in casual conversation, because the focus is not on you. And while you’re planning an event together, or playing a board game, interaction happens almost by itself!

Published 29.8.2017

Bianca Beyer

When I don’t sit over plans to erase all evil and meet unicorns, or dream of eating cotton candy, I believe in hard facts and science, doing my PhD in Accounting at the University of Oulu. Using writing as an information transmitter, outlet for creativity or simply for mere entertainment, I believe I am totally living the dream with all my current jobs. Blog: beapproved.wordpress.com

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