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7 Ways to Make Friends at University When You Don’t Drink

By Oliver Hurcum on 22-04-2018

Making friends at university can seem a little tricky when you don’t drink and everyone else is off to their favourite club on a Friday night. Sure, you could go with them, but cramming into a dark basement filled with sweaty bodies and flashing lights is not something easily enjoyed when sober. How do people even meet each other when the music is so loud?

Fortunately, despite what it may seem, for most people drinking is just a small part of university life. They don’t actually live in a nightclub. Moreover, in the UK, over a quarter of adults under the age of 24 don’t drink at all, and so you can be pretty sure you’re not alone in your sobriety. You just need to meet the right people at the right time. Here are seven ways to go about it:


1. Spend time in the kitchen

If you’re living in university accommodation, you almost certainly have a shared kitchen. It’s different everywhere, but the kitchen is usually something of a local hub with people walking in and out throughout the day for tea and coffee. Make the kitchen your workspace for a while and say hello to whoever comes in. Strike up a conversation while they’re waiting for the kettle to boil or their soup to heat up. Small regular interactions like this quickly develop into rich friendships.

2. Find a work buddy

Some people work best alone, but others like to pair up. Working with a partner can help keep you motivated and gives you someone to talk to during your breaks. If you’re on the same course, you can even help each other out with your problem sheets or essay plans.

3. Take an extra class

Universities typically provide the opportunity to take a language or art class while studying for your degree. You can also often find dance classes, acting classes, cooking classes, and more. Not only are these a great way to diversify your skill set, but you’re bound to interact with other like-minded students and develop strong friendships as you work together toward a common goal.

4. Join a sports team

Regular exercise is a must, and a great way to keep fit is to join a sports team. Universities have teams for every sport imaginable, from football to ice hockey to Quidditch, at every level of play. Whether you’re a top athlete or someone who just wants to get out once a week to throw a frisbee, you’ll be able to find a team for you - and nothing forms new friendships like a little friendly competition.

5. Get involved in drama

Student plays are a staple of every university. Even if you don’t particularly want to get on stage to act, you can help out with music, costuming, advertising, lighting, and props. This is a great way to build up your CV while meeting a wide number of people on a regular basis for rehearsals and shows.

6. Board Game night

Board games have become more popular than ever, and it’s easy to see why. A board game gives your group a focus for the evening, makes conversation easy, and brings out people’s competitive side. Ask around to see who’s interested and you’ll be amazed at quite how many people are up for a game.

7. Meet up for coffee

Once you’ve found some people you like spending time with, suggest meeting up for coffee during the day. University towns are full of coffee shops, both chains and independents, to meet the high student demand. You never know, your group could find their very own Central Perk

Oliver Hurcum writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.


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