How I made friends in the UK

Hello there, my name is Denis Odera and I am a third year student at the University of Portsmouth. Kenya is where I call home and I am studying a course in Computer Games Enterprise and loving every bit of it (except, of course, all the course work!).

Besides work, assessments and such, one needs friends in order to survive the university life, especially when you’re in a foreign country. This is a blog post about how I made friends in the UK as an international student. Hopefully my experience will give all you first timers and those interested, some tips on how to widen your friendship circle.



Course Mates

The most obvious and regular encounters will be with the students in your course. Many of my units had group-work so I had no choice but to get to know other students better so that we could work well together throughout the semester. It may sound derailing, but group work is really useful. It increases the chances of you meeting new people and forming friendships that may even last outside the classrooms


Clubs and Societies

One of my biggest regrets is not joining enough societies. There is no better way to make friends and meet a variety of people than this! There are tons of societies based on academic groups, cultural interests, physical activity and even simple things such as cheese and wine! Everyone is interested in something, which means there are bound to be similarities, which create friendships…and opportunities for more cheese!


Place of Residence

During my first year, I lived in private halls of residence. It took me some time to get a room because of contracts, finance and such; so by the time I started living there, friendships had already been formed and it was difficult to see where I felt I belonged.

This resulted in me sitting in my room by myself and becoming very antisocial, until one night where the fire alarm went off. While all the students ran outside and started complaining about the loud noise and irritation, I was busy introducing myself to people while complaining about the fire alarm as well. To this day, those same people are some of my best friends!

The moral of the story? Make friends with housemates/roommates. Take the initiative and do not be shy. Embrace the fire alarm!


Family and friends nearby

I am lucky enough to have a few friends and family members that stay in other parts of the UK.  If you do as well, visit them when you have some spare time available. Not only will you be able to explore other parts of the country, but you have the chance of meeting their friends and close mates as well. This makes your network grow bigger! Who knows what kind of hidden treasures they may be in the future?


Go Online

I realized this a little late unfortunately, but universities across the UK have many mix and match websites online. Explore and join what you can, both in your university and mix and match websites that welcome students across different universities. As well as meeting new people, you will also have the chance to go on many weekend trips, possibly even trips outside the UK!


So that is it! There are very many more ways of making friends as a university student, but it really is up to you to take that first step. I hope this has been helpful. If you have any queries or would like more information, about university life in general, please do not hesitate to contact me!

By Denis