We all know the awkward first day tutorial sitch - where will I sit, who will join my table, do I go in now or wait to see who else comes? Maybe you lucked in and found someone you vibe with regardless of when you entered the room. Score. Now the next challenge - how do you cross the uni friend barrier? When is too early to ask to grab a coffee after class? And the biggie: are we friends or are we just uni friends?
As a born and bred Aucklander, I never needed uni friends. But there’s something nice about romanticizing the American college experience. I mean, I don’t think I’m game to see my classmates in a toga just yet, but I would be down for a study group or two and more time to complain about the ridiculous load of readings and assignments I haven’t done yet.
So, the question remains - Is there a way to break through our sometimes stale class only connections? Or more importantly, should we even care about friendships at uni? My answer would be yes. Because we won’t remember the times we went home and watched Netflix. But we might remember spinning a yarn in Albert Park, laughs shared over coffee at Counter, being told to shhh in the Treehouse or hitting a uni event at Vesbar over O Week.
But how do we break that barrier through awkward transactional connections and towards a Stepbrothers friendship level. Or even dare I say it – the American dream. Well, the American college dream at least. After four years of uni and experimenting with awkward connections beyond tutorial walls here’s what I’ve learnt.
Pro-tips to less awkward more fun uni mates
Follow someone after class (lol) – Ask someone what they’re doing after class. They will likely give you a sweet vibe or a gtfo vibe. Only follow though if you get a sweet vibe. This can get awkward, so you have been warned. Bonus points if they are going somewhere to study, they may shout you a soy chai latte or hot choccy #winning
Plan a study date – This is great. You most likely won’t study much, but the bonds will grow like the line before an 8am lecture at the café for coffee. Pro tip: use phrases like “I am so unprepared;” “when will I use this;” or “I’m screwed.” Nothing builds comradery like an academic existential crisis.
Show your weird – There’s no such thing as over sharing when building friendships. Take it from a past retail chick who spent hours in forced conversation with co-workers. We live in a world where we keep our cards close. Adult friending is built on being weird or at least open. Tell me about your hidden love for Disney musicals, your pet rock collection, or your Harry Potter patronus animal. I’m down.
Meme away – So its exam or assignment time and you are spending more time procrastinating on social media than doing anything productive. The upside? You see a lot of hella great memes that encapsulate your angst and tagging your almost uni friends will work wonders.
Vesbar that shiz – Did you know our uni bar is hella cheap, recently refurbed, has great vibes and an app that lets you line up your choice of songs? Oh and not to mention the best wedges and fries on campus? Well now you know. I once asked my uni friends five times to join me and on the sixth we made it to Vesbar. I’d call that a success.
Did someone say clubs? If you’re are a hardcore American College dream chaser – or just want to meet new people - than look no further than AUTSA clubs. It took me four years to click that clubs were actually filled with rad humans. They’re the people you will be dying to meet. So grab that almost uni friend and ask them to join you at a clubs event. There’s usually free food and always a welcoming face and you can even get leadership training for your CV if you so choose. Check out AUTSA’s website for a full club list.
Start a class facebook group- Sometimes you just want to know what Carol gets up to on the weekend, if the hottie on the back table has a significant other, or if anyone else shares your love of musicals. Putting your hand up to start the group is a great way of getting to know the crew a little more. Bonus? People share exam/assignment tips. What more could you want?
Just try- Uni is what you make it. What you put in you get out. My friends over the road at Auckland Uni are the most connected, bonded, bunch I know and they still manage to balance work, study, social uni groups, old friends, and new uni friends.
Ditch your highschool friends- Ok, so you don’t have to be that dramatic. But at least be open to the fact that humans who didn’t grow up in your postcode might be worth getting to know. So instead of expending your social energy with old friends who repeat the same pre-drink town combo, or other such highschool rituals – ask your uni friends out to an event in the CBD after class next week. I dare you.
So there you have it. Your uni friend beyond tutorials challenge. Let’s add something to our cup of chill and connection that will actually help when uni stress hits. The friendship support network. Give it a whirl. I promise you won’t regret it. And lastly, remember when making new friends it just takes one moment of braveness to invite them to friendship town or in my case sometimes five. See you there.
Britt Little, Future Proofers AUT Club