If you (or all your friends) are heading off to university in September, one of the things you might be worried about is how to make friends – especially if you’re going abroad for your studies. Right now, all your mates are here in the 852, you’ve probably known them for years, and you’reasthick as thieves. Making friends when you’re older can seem much harder and, even when you do, you might be worried that they won’t ever get you the way your bestie does. Here are five ways to make friends once you’ve left school.
If you’re going to be living in dorms, you should try to make friends with your dorm mates – they’re the ones you’ll come home to for the next year or two. Don’t hide away in your room after seminars and lectures – hang out in the common room, talk about your degrees, or make a meal together in the evening.
There are lots of other ways to make friends – many Hongkongers, for instance, join Hong Kong societies when studying abroad. However, don’t feel like you have to. There are plenty of societies out there, so choose ones you want to join.
Sign up for a workshop, or join a local sports team. A lot of adults, when they’re working, will see the same people day in and day out at work and at home.
Picking up a new hobby is a really good way of making new friends. If you’re, for example, a newbie photographer then you can ask people for their tips and tricks. If you’re practically a professional, you can help others who might just be starting out.
One of the easiest ways to make new friends once you’ve moved to a new city or a new country (or even if you aren’t moving anywhere at all) is to head to meetup.com. In Hong Kong, some of the most popular meetups are hiking-, photography-, and language-related. In other major cities, some of the more popular groups are all about films, interesting talks, and hiking.
Approaching people can seem super scary but, often, the other person is just as terrified as you. All it takes to strike up a conversation with someone at your seminar, or at your new summer job, is to smile and say “hi”. Ask them questions, and be responsive and positive when talking to them. Positive social cues like smiling, looking people in the eyes, and nodding encourage people to continue talking to you. Negative ones, like looking away, crossing your arms, or looking at your phone, will make people think that you don’t want to talk to them.
You don’t have to talk about anything deep if you don’t want to – sometimes, a long conversation about Riverdale or the latest updates to Instagram can be enough to make the beginnings of a new friendship!
After school, the people you will see most of in your adult life will be the people you work with. When you start a new job or internship, ask for help from the people around you. Grab lunch with them, and talk about something that was on TV the night before, or what you did on your days off. Just as when you’re living in student accommodation, seeing the same people every day can be both good and bad. It’s bad if you dislike someone, because you have to work with them all the time. It’s good if you get on well with someone, because you’ll get to work with them all the time.
Unlike when you’re at university, though, simply avoiding someone at work isn’t an option. Even if you can’t make friends, you will be expected to remain polite and professional.
One of the most important things you will have to do is to keep in touch with people. At school, you know you will see your classmates every day. You might not see the friends you make when you are older as often.
Keep in touch with them – drop them a message, tag them in a meme on IG, or comment on something they’ve said on Facebook. If you don’t, then it’s very easy to lose touch with people, and it might feel awkward when you see them again.