Making friends

Two young women in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London

When you are planning your UK studies, you might be very excited… but also a little nervous about making friends.

Don’t worry, there will be lots of students feeling the same as you, and everyone will be getting to know each other.

Many students from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales leave their home town for their studies and live away from their families. Like you, on the first day of term they will be arriving in a new city, keen to make friends. There may be lots of other international students at your campus too.

Being new together can be a real bonding experience. Hopefully you will find lots of people to explore your new home with you.

© The University of Nottingham

Here are a few ideas to help you ‘break the ice’ and make friends:

  • Join your student social groups

Every year, 500,000 international students from 200 nations study in the UK at a school, college or university, and a further 600,000 students come to do an English language course. To help international students settle in, many schools, colleges and universities run an international society, hosting parties, pub quizzes, film nights and excursions. Joining is a great way to make friends with students from all around the world. Find out what is on offer.

But don’t forget to make friends with students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland too! In a recent British Council survey, students from the UK said they felt international students are widely welcomed.

  • Take up a hobby

Would you like to try mountain climbing, chess or photography? Perhaps you’re more into football, painting or dance? Taking up a new hobby is a brilliant way to make new friends who share your interests. Most UK schools, colleges and universities run lots of sport and art groups. Look on noticeboards around your campus to see what is on offer.

You could also find out what is on offer in your town – have a look in your local newspaper, on the local library noticeboard, in shop windows or on the internet.

  • Make friends with your housemates

Many UK students live in shared accommodation – either in a ‘hall of residence’ or in a shared private house. To get to know each other, you could suggest cooking a meal together, going out for a coffee or watching a film.

Many English language students live with UK families in homestay accommodation, which is another great way to meet local people.

  • Experience a weekend with a British family

HOST is a not-for-profit organisation that links international students with British families. You could stay with a family for a day, a weekend or even for Christmas! This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know local British people and experience their way of life. Click here to find out more.

  • Be friendly!

Remember, the best way to make friends is simply to… be friendly. At the end of your class, why not start a conversation with the person next to you? Or in your Students’ Union cafe, why not ask your fellow students for advice about the local area? With a little time, we hope you will soon have lots of friends.

'Students are social animals! Your Students' Union bar is a great place to get to know people around campus. Most UK students see university as a life-changing experience and will be more approachable as they are in the same situation as you. A lot of my friends were made not just in my first year but right up until my third.'
– Christiana Smith, Media Studies at the University of East London

Read more Students' tips for making friends