Making The Most out of University Life: Tips for Making Friends in University

In university where everyone has their own hectic schedules and lives, it can be lonely at times, especially if you do not have a single buddy there for you. Yet when you decide to start looking for one, you realise that making friends has never been more difficult. One-off coursemates where everyone leaves right after the lecture or tutorial ends, classmates who have very different schedules from you…the struggle is real. Diving into some tips and advice from students and their success stories, this article hopes to guide you through your quest of looking for a friend in university! 

Join a CCA 

While oft quoted, joining a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in school is a great way to make friends. What better way to make friends than through meeting new people who share the same interests and hobbies as you! International student Wynnona Pheeby Yansen (Y2, Data Science and Analytics) hails from Indonesia, and has lived in various parts of the country including Makassar, Kalimantan and Surabaya. For Pheeby, joining a CCA in NUS has played a big role in her friendship-making journey. She is a student volunteer in the NUS Rotaract Club, and a member of NUANSA Cultural Production.  


Pheeby (bottom row, second from the right) with her friends from NUANSA Cultural Production.  


“Take part in as many activities as you can (of course you need to strike a balance with academics too!) because friendship [requires] a two-way communication, if you imprison yourself in the library or in your room, you suppress your chances of making friends”, Pheeby shared. “I think as university students, the most challenging part is to find a common timing where everyone can make it because of our own schedules and priorities.” This is where CCA sessions can help ensure that you and your potential friends get to meet at least weekly or fortnightly! Regular sessions where members take part in their favourite activities; be it a sport, the performing arts, or volunteering, it is no wonder why so many lasting friendships were formed through CCAs. With a wide-ranging list of CCAs to choose from, there will certainly be something in store for you! If you decide that the CCA is not for you, fret not as most CCAs are generally flexible with their memberships.  


Stay on campus 

Every semester, hostels see lasting friendships bloom among their residents. Living together in close proximity for the entire semester will naturally facilitate the forming of friendships. As student leaders of Pioneer House, Joshlyn Looi (Y3, Economics) and Chuan Po Yan (Y4, Business Analytics) met while working closely together for hostel events. For the pair, a meet-up does not require months of planning and scheduling as they spend a large amount of time planning and executing events for residents together to begin with. On top of that, Joshlyn and Po Yan meet up regularly with their mutual friends from Pioneer House to have meals or to go on a breezy night run to West Coast Park.  


What a cute duo! Keep a lookout for our upcoming Valentine’s article featuring campus sweethearts including Joshlyn and Po Yan, as we take you through their journey from friends into lovers! 


As you navigate your way through living on your own along with your fellow residents, you will most likely end up with at least one friendship (or even a relationship, just like Joshlyn and Po Yan)! 


Be proactive 

While staying on campus makes it easier to meet new people and forge lasting bonds, it is not a compulsory factor when making friends. Despite not having stayed on campus throughout her four years at NUS, Hasanah Haja Mydin (Y4, Psychology) has made her own fair share of friends. “You have to be proactive and take initiative to ask people. If you want to be friends with them, just ask. The worst they can say is no”, she shared. One of Hasanah’s many friendships sparked at the Central Library, which she frequents. She initially developed a hi-bye relationship with a fellow Central Library frequent, before engaging in study sessions together. Today, they are close friends. Outside of class, Hasanah maintains her friendships by proactively setting time aside for her friends. “For me personally, the whole ‘see you when I see you’ won’t really allow you to maintain a good friendship”, Hasanah added. “I think it takes intention, and we must learn to manage our expectations, as well as develop empathy.” Indeed, forming and sustaining a friendship can be no easy feat!  


Hasanah and her friends on the last day of lecture. 

(Bottom row right side: Hasanah) 


As a Utown gym regular, Hasanah admits that she has made two friends in the toilet near the gym. “I made two friends in the toilet. One friend introduced herself and we had the usual What’s your name and major conversation, while another friend started the conversation by asking me if I gym often.” From Hasanah, we’ve learnt that friendships can start anywhere, even in toilets! All it takes is to be proactive and reach out to people.  


Be open-minded 

University is substantially made up of students from diverse backgrounds and with various personalities, so you can’t expect everyone you meet to be the same, or to be the perfect ideal friend you have in mind. Being open-minded not only helps you get along with others, but it can also be beneficial for others as well! When Pheeby first reached NUS, she knew no one as she had missed all of the orientation camps before the start of the academic year. Yet, she still managed to befriend her CCA mates and classmates as they were extremely open-minded and welcoming towards her. “People here are just so nice and open, so after a few CCA sessions or tutorials, it was easy to start a conversation and build the connection” she shared.  

As an exchange student, Andrea Nugrahaputri (Y4, Chemical Engineering) from Jakarta, Indonesia initially struggled with living alone and making friends in a foreign country. “For the first two weeks or so, it got a bit lonely, but I tried my best to step out of my comfort zone and just say hi to my neighbours” she shared. Andrea also reached out to her friends and family from back home for advice. “They told me to be a bit more open to others and step out of my comfort zone more. And so that’s what I tried to do.”


Andrea (far right) with fellow exchange students enjoying Singapore’s traditional breakfast, Kaya Toast!  

 A tip from Andrea to fellow exchange students in NUS: 

Join any (smaller) activities whether it’s an NUS Club or Interest Group within the hostels, as I feel that it’s easier to make friends from there.  


Don’t rush 

In reality, not everyone you meet will be the right friend for you. Give the new friendship time to blossom, and there’s no need to rush into trying to make it work. Instead, be proud of yourself for taking the first step in making a friend. On top of advising Andrea to step out of her comfort zone, her friends and family from back home also reminded her that there is no rush when it comes to befriending others. “I got tremendous help from my family and friends of mine back home to remind me that making friends might take time”, she shared. Similarly, Joshlyn and Po Yan pointed out, “Remember that [forming a] friendship takes time and that you won’t click with everyone immediately.”  

The university is huge, you can take your time and eventually, you will meet the right friends. Slow and steady wins the race!  


And that brings us to the end of our friendship-making guide! Of course, these tips are not exhaustive and completely foolproof, but we hope that you have at least gained an idea of how to go about making friends in university. All the best and have fun in your journey of making friends! 




Tan Jie Min

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