The Bartlett


How to make friends at university

by Celine Lessard-Brandt

One part of university life that many people wonder about before arriving is how to make friends. Although this can seem intimidating, meeting new people can also be exciting and there are plenty of opportunities to get to know the people around you.

Getting to the Bartlett

In your first few weeks at the Bartlett, you’ll have a whirlwind schedule meeting your coursemates, learning about the classes on offer, and attending social events. Use all of these as opportunities to meet people – you could ask the person next to you in an introductory lecture what electives they are planning on taking, and at a social event you could ask someone you’ve already met to introduce you to their coursemates. Exchange phone numbers and start some group chats – having people’s contact information is important!

Socialising at the Bartlett

You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in class and on campus in your first few weeks, and that’s a great opportunity to meet others. Chat to the people around you in your classes, and if you have group projects, try putting together a group with both coursemates and students from outside your course – you can learn from each other and stay connected to other courses’ social networks. Spending time in campus buildings, in the library as well as in spaces where you can talk freely, can also help you meet new people and run into the people you already know. You’ll start to recognize familiar faces and feel comfortable in the new environment. 

Enjoying the outdoors after class 

Building your relationships

Once you’ve met your coursemates and other students at the Bartlett, you can make lasting friendships by staying in touch. If you hear about any interesting lectures around campus or online, invite a few people who are interested in the topic to go. Text some acquaintances to ask if they want to go for lunch at the Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market. Or, message a group chat and see if anyone wants to explore London on the weekend – if you know a lot of international students, this will be a great chance to get together. Everyone will be looking for connections and happy to have someone reach out!

Exploring outer London with classmates 

Socialising and building your relationships – online

Of course, the pandemic has led us through a lot of twists and turns, and you might find yourself spending a lot of time online. Although it might be harder, you can still make friends. Try reaching out to your course rep and suggesting a Zoom social – our course had an online “show and tell” and Pictionary session for the first- and second-year students to meet each other. You could also try asking professors of different courses to set these up, or if you’re doing virtual group work, suggest a 30-minute virtual teatime instead of just meeting for project work. You could even reach beyond the Bartlett – the Students’ Union emails suggest plenty of virtual society meetups and classes. These are all great ways to get to know other students when you can’t be together in person. 

Making friends is an essential part of the university experience, not only for professional networking but for your well-being and support throughout the course. Staying open and putting effort into meeting others will lead to lots of reward in your time at UCL. 

About the author

Celine is a second-year student on the two-year City Planning MPlan course at the Bartlett School of Planning, enrolling at UCL after an undergrad at Sciences Po in France and Columbia University in New York. Her dissertation research focuses on the relationship between queer spaces and high streets. Celine lives in South London and loves discovering the city by bike. 

Celine riding on a bike in London