Adapting to university life: tips for building a 'village'

10 October 2022

Adapting to life at university can be less daunting if you have a 'village' to support you. UCL medical student Anjana Lakshmi Narasimhan provides a few tips for building that village (i.e. supporting network).

Several pairs of hands on a tree trunk for a team building activity

The proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ may apply to adapting to university life. A lot of students find moving to and starting university a time when they are inundated with new information, connections, and experiences. Adapting to university life can be less dauting if you had a ‘village’ of people around you ready to support you and help you grow. This article provides a few tips on how to build that ‘village’.


Universities can provide a distorted view on societies, in the sense that if you don’t fit into the societies on offer, then making new friends through this means is off the table. The good news is that UCL has several clubs and societies to choose from and the beginning of the academic year is a good time to capitalise on these. Most societies offer some sort of ‘meet and greet’ or socials that can help you to meet the committee members, or just other people who share the same interests as you. It can be very intimidating to try new things which is why the start of the year is the best time as everyone is equally new! A good first step is to visit the societies page of the student union website. Within the 16 pages of different societies on offer, you may find one worth attending or exploring and if one does work out for you, then it’s a valuable step towards your building your new village.


UCL offers a range of volunteering options run by its students and staff. There is a perception that volunteering falls under a few niche categories; however, there are also management and policy opportunities. The UCL Volunteering directory has several options and thankfully, there are many filters to narrow these down to the perfect CV-boosting, friendship-creating opportunity. Opportunities range from flexible to one-off so are perfect for if you’re unsure of how much you can fit on your plate. So, what does this have to do with building a village? Volunteering for causes that you are passionate about can connect you with like-minded people while giving you experience of working together. Volunteering groups often have socials so that you can get to know people in a fun-filled environment too.


Whilst this is not for everyone, a lot of students may be interested in the idea of working a few hours a week, earning some money and making new friends in the process. UCL Jobshop has opportunities listed that are university-friendly and can help you find a job that works for you and your degree. The UCL Careers page also has many options which are worth having a look at if you’re trying to build your career network alongside your village. Working in certain roles can help you to find people on your course that might have similar career aspirations, and this can help to build new connections, especially if you’re new to UCL. The important thing is to only accept roles that you’re comfortable working in and not to jeopardise your work-life balance if you don’t feel you can take on a new work role.


University can be very lonely and just like every village needs solid foundations, it’s important to know there is support. UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can provide support if you’re having difficulties or if there’s something that you want to talk about. Log an enquiry via askUCL if you feel you need help – that’s what a village is for.

In summary, there are many ways you can create a group of supportive individuals who are invested in your growth around you. Often, if you’ve made the right connections, these new friends and colleagues can remain a part of your life beyond university. But while at university, the support they can offer, could make your life there feel much easier.

Anjana Lakshmi Narasimhan, UCL Year 5 Medical Student