Entering university can feel isolating and overwhelming, especially during your first year. Contrary to popular belief based on teen movies, there is no step-by-step guide to tell you how to make friends with a snap of your fingers or which groups are best to hang out with. The academic workload at U of T can make the isolation worse because you might feel alone in your struggle.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to make friends during your first year of university so that you can feel less alone in your journey as a young adult and student. Here are 10 ways you can make friends:
Instagram and social media
If you’re more of an introvert or have social anxiety but you want to meet new people and make friends without the pressure of socializing in real life, look for a page for your graduating class — in the case of incoming students, the class of 2027 — on Instagram, and start talking to people there. Most incoming classes have an Instagram account for incoming students. For the class of 2027, there are multiple Instagram accounts dedicated to first-year student features and submissions, such as @uoftx2027 and @uoft_27, which have huge followings of 12,000 to 13,000 users at the time of writing.
You can also look for course-specific group chats. The majority of courses have social media group chats, whether it be on Discord, Facebook, or Instagram. In these group chats, you can interact with people online about course content and upcoming assignments and tests. Each program will also most likely have program-specific group chats and servers. These communities will provide updates for students about upcoming program events, clubs, and guides to other course group chats and/or information about a specific course.
Talking to peers in student spaces
Since you’ll be attending regular lectures on a weekly basis, meeting and talking with students in your lecture will not only help with course content, but will help you develop new friendships. Many students are scared to approach others in lectures, but students will be glad to make a friend to talk to about course content. From there, you can develop a meaningful friendship with them and discuss hanging out outside of class.
Tutorials and practicals are smaller groups, which can be an easier way to make friends. When you need help with certain assignments or you are struggling with course content, you can always rely on someone there to help you out.
You can also make friends by being in the same college or residence. There is nothing better than ranting to your roommates or those living in the same dorm as you about subpar dining hall food in your residence hall, judging other U of T residence halls based on their student services and conditions, or bonding over the shared experiences of living in the same building — whether pleasant or not.
Student organizations and social events
U of T has over 1,000 different clubs and student organizations spread across the three campuses: St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough. There are clubs for almost everything, like dancing, singing, acting, creative writing, culture, and more. For example, if you are passionate about journalism and telling stories, apply for various positions at The Varsity, or in your respective college newspapers, such as The Strand, The Mike, The Gargoyle, etc. Through pursuing new hobbies or passions, you can connect with like-minded people and connect through common interests aside from school.
At UTSG, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) holds events for all undergraduate students. The UTSU hosts career fairs, networking events, balls, therapy dog sessions, and workshops. The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) also hold similar events for their respective campuses.
Orientation week, one of the student unions’ first major events of the year, is where most students find their first few friends. It is a week to interact with other students in your college through icebreakers, activities, and much more. For many students, orientation week provides a way for them to make lifelong friends.
These are some common ways to make friends during your first year of university, whether they would be short term, lifelong, or casual friendships. Wherever you go as a first-year student, rest assured that you are not alone on this new journey. You can still make friends under the most unexpected circumstances.