Welcome and your first weeks at LSE are a pretty nerve-wracking time for most, especially when making friends with people you don’t know. The first thing to remember, as an incoming student, is that practically everyone is in the same position as you. You might find that finding the right friends can happen totally out of the blue or, in some cases, that it actually takes more time to figure out what kinds of friendships you want to build.
So, whether you’re based in London, somewhere else in the UK or even overseas – here are a few ways you can start mingling and begin making friends at LSE!
*Reminder: Please note that with the following recommendations, you should remember to follow the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing. It is important for all of our students to follow the latest reccomended advice for keeping safe, especially those who are at a high risk. It may be that you will need to follow the governments advice in relation to your ability to participate in various activities listed here. To find out if you fall into a high risk category and for more information about the precautions you should take, please click here.
Start with your housemates/flatmates...
University halls are a perfect environment to begin socialising as you will be living among quite a large student community. Like you, everyone is in a new place, trying to find their bearings and most importantly, trying to make friends. Most people start making friends in halls as you will all be living in the same building and (depending on your halls catering) cooking and/or eating with them!
Similarly, if you are living in intercollegiate University of London (UoL) halls, you will be able to meet an even wider range of students from other universities!
The same goes for private accommodation or rented houses. Remember – regardless as to what property you’re in, people will be just as keen as you to make new friends, so you can also try conversating in common spaces like the canteen or the kitchen as long as you are at a safe distance.
If you’re invited to something, whether it be a socially distanced gathering in the park or walk into the city – you should at least consider going along (if you feel comfortable). Indeed, there may be some situations or activities that you might not always be able to partake in (like with those from other households), but if you are able, even popping along for a short while will be a good opportunity for you to start mingling with people.
Don’t worry or panic if you don’t click right away with the people living in your accommodation, it is really quite down to luck as to who you get put with, and – as we’ll show you – there are plenty of other opportunities to meet people elsewhere!
… and with your classmates
If you’re a commuter or living away from London, don’t worry – we’re about to go through all the other ways that you guys can find new people! Online learning may present a new dimension to making friends in lectures and seminars, but it’s still possible to build connections with your peers. At the end of the day, this is a really great place to start reaching out to people, as you already share a common interest!
Firstly, you'll need to find an appropriate way to contact them. There are many ways to find your peers - you can ask them yourselves if you have group work or seminars with them, you can also try asking your department if they can assist you. Try posting in the LSESU Facebook Community Groups (Undergrad, Postgrad, PhD, Freshers, International Students, BME Students) to see if any of your course mates are in there too - we've put the links for these at the bottom of this blog post.
Already sharing a common interest, it will be pretty easy to strike up a conversation - for instance, why you chose to study the subject, how you're finding the course and, the dreaded question‚ "did you do the readings?". Most academic departments organise some form of a welcome party or social event, which of course will probably be digital this year, and this is a really good way to start meeting people on your course and in your department.
From general conversation starters, you'll find that conversations will naturally flow into other topics regarding student life:
- What halls or accommodation are they staying at?
- Which Welcome events are they attending?
- What societies or clubs are they interested in joining?
This way, you'll have something non-course related to reference back to next time you chat to them.
Got a break in between classes? Why not suggest having a virtual lunch with some of your course mates who have the same schedule? Lunch or dinner breaks are great for really getting to know your course mates. Plus, if you have peers who are scattered across the globe, it may be a nice way to start gaining insights into the different cuisines, cultures and lifestyles that you all lead.
Generally, social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc) is a great way to connect with your course mates, develop friendships outside of contact hours, throw around a bit of banter and even catch up on anything you may have missed in classes. If one hasn't been created already, you could try and set one up with the people you have already introduced yourself to.
Get yourselves along to the “virtual” events
With everything going digital at the moment (our events calendar included), it’s even easier to get yourselves along to some of our Welcome events as well as the events held by our student groups. We won’t go into this one in too much detail, but rest assured that the recent changes haven’t stopped us from whipping up a calendar of events for you to join!
Make sure you’re signed up to our Welcome Mailing list for all the latest updates on the official LSESU Welcome Events calendar. Read more about the sorts of events you can expect in your first term in our latest blog – Your guide to: Events at LSESU.
Join clubs and societies!
So, we’ve probably said this so many times already, but it is really true – joining societies and clubs is an excellent way to meet like-minded people! LSESU boasts more than 200 societies, well over 50 sports clubs, and 4 student media groups. These groups cover a range of special interest, faith & cultural, careers, arts & performance, charity, campaigning & political and academic interests. So, we’re pretty sure that you’ll going to find at least one society that takes your fancy!
For many, being part of a student group for special interests can be like having a second home. You’ll be surrounded by people who share similar interests, similar cultural backgrounds, and unique skillsets as you. The best part is, you can join these communities digitally as membership can be bought from our website.
In addition to being able to meet like-minded people, every society, club or media group comes with its own social life which you can also become a part of. Besides career panels and special guest lectures, societies play a key part in students’ social lives as the committees frequently organize a wide range of socials, trips, and get togethers – so there is bound to be a society-held events that suits your fancy!
Whether it’s talking about something you’re passionate about, or bonding over trying a new sport, you are guaranteed to find something that suits you among the 200+ LSESU student groups. If you are still not sure and want to start up a society of your own, we’ll even give you the support to start your own!
Facebook is your best friend
If you want to start at LSE with a few pre-made contacts, getting in touch with people online can be a much easier to make friends.
We at LSESU manage a number of Facebook Community Groups where you can connect with students before your arrival at LSE. Of course, you will have to confirm your full LSE course and year of study to be accepted into the groups, so that we can keep these groups purely for student and LSESU communication, and to keep out those dodgy promoters and housing companies that we all hate. Below are the links to our Facebook Community Groups:
The Official LSE Undergraduate Community
The Official LSE Postgraduate Community
The Official LSE International Student Community
The Official LSE BME* Student Community
The Official LSE PHD & MPhil Community
The Official LSE Freshers Community 20-21
Many courses have their own Facebook groups and so do most of the halls of residence – so you can get chatting to your future course mates and neighbours, and even begin suggesting some meetups during the first week.
Our last pieces of advice …
Our last pieces of advice …
Say the magic word
Don’t be afraid to say ‘hi’ first. Sometimes, you’ll find that you will have to put yourself out there to start a conversation, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone. People are probably just as friendly and eager to make friends as you are, you it’s just a matter of breaking the ice (remember - everyone is in the same boat)!
You might already have an idea of what ‘type’ of friend you are looking for, but don’t let that limit who you have a conversation with! LSE is a highly international university, with over 160 nationalities represented within its student body (that’s more than the United Nations!)
So, get ready to meet all kinds of different people from all over the world; it’s amazing how much you can find in common with someone who’s lived on the other side of the world to you! Stay open minded, listen, be welcoming, and you could find yourself some life-long friendships during your time here.