Making friends at the U of A

Looking to expand your social circle and make some new friends? Graduate student Jeremy has a couple of ideas that might help you out!



YouAlberta is written by students for students.

Jeremy (he/him) is in his final year of a MA in Communications and Technology (MACT) at the U of A. When he's not writing a paper or reading a book, you can find him on some of Edmonton's river valley trails, or trying to get sendy on his skis.

There are plenty of good reasons to want to make friends; maybe you’re bored or lonely, you want people to study with or to work out with. Maybe you’ve always had a dream of dressing up in a two-part horse costume and none of your current friends want to do it with you. The reasons can be your own. So how do you do it? There’s no magic answer, but a warning: you’re probably going to have to put yourself out there a bit, which might feel a bit uncomfortable depending on your disposition. But don’t worry, once you get over the initial awkward parts, you’ll likely be glad you took the risk.

First, I have three general pieces of advice for someone who wants to make new friends. These aren’t universal, but they’ve worked for me and might work for you as well:

    1. This might be uncomfortable, but that’s like a lot of things in life. Talking to someone new can be stressful, but let’s be honest, it won’t be that bad, so take the initiative and reach out.
    2. Start small, and work your way up. Personally, I’d be a little weirded out if someone I’ve never met before came up and said to me: “Hey, want to be my new best friend?”. But, if I had been saying hello and chatting to someone in an 11 a.m. class three days per week, and then they asked, “Want to eat lunch together today?” I’d totally be down if it worked with my schedule.
    3. Accept that everything won’t work out, and that’s okay. Everyone isn’t cut out to be friends with each other, and that’s part of what makes good friends so special. You’ll probably meet a lot of people in life who you don’t want to be friends with, and they might not want to be friends with you. But don’t get discouraged and keep trying because some of these friendships will happen and work out.

I’ve compiled a few ideas and opportunities around the U of A that might help you out. These aren’t the only options, but I feel they’re a pretty good place to start or at least to start brainstorming if they aren’t right for you:

Say hello to someone in one of your classes, and maybe invite them to do something together.

You’ll see each other a lot during a term, and you’ve got shared deadlines, maybe you’re in the same program and you might even be in more than one course together. So start by saying hello, and if that goes well, maybe you want to get together at a library on campus and study together for an exam.

Sign up for a program through Campus Community Recreation.

CCR has a huge breadth of offerings, from judo to dance to playing Settlers of Catan. You can sign up for a course or participate in drop-in opportunities either with existing friends or alone (and I bet if you go on your own, you’ll find people who also want to make new friends).

Sign up for a tea time with Unitea.

I just wrote an article about what you can expect at Unitea, so I might be a little biased, but I think it’s a great way to meet someone new or practice your conversation skills and get used to meeting new people.

Join a student club or group

There are hundreds of student groups and clubs at the U of A. By signing up for one (or more than one), you’ll immediately find a group of people who do things together and have at least one shared interest (that club). From Bhangra Dance to Toastmasters to the Art Club, there are a lot of options.

Get involved by volunteering

The U of A Students’ Union has a volunteer opportunity registry, and you could also consider getting involved with a faculty or department association at the university. This is a cool way to do some good, contribute to the U of A (or wider) community and meet new people.

Go to an event on campus

One of the best things about the U of A (in my opinion) is all the events going on around the campuses throughout the year. Often, when you go to events, you’ll meet people who are interested in the same thing (that’s why they came to the event); there might even be more shared interests. So check out the events hub and see what’s going on!

This list is by no means exhaustive, so mix it up! It’s important to remember that while making friends seems to come naturally to some people, it isn’t easy for a lot of us, but with persistence and determination, it should get easier. If you are feeling down and lonely, it isn’t your fault, and I would suggest looking at U of A mental health resources or reaching out to the SU Peer Support Centre if you need help.