Making friends and social life as a Lancaster student - Kerrie Watson

two friends chatting over a coffee

University life is about more than just studying. So how can you keep busy, make the most of your university experience and most importantly make great friends in the little city of Lancaster?

You may be worried before coming to university about university life, how will you make friends or where will you make friends? I know I shared these worries. Remember, everyone is in the same position as you and most likely shares the same concerns as you. Here are some ideas for how best to get out there and meet new people:

  1. Social media groups - A great way to make friends before university and get a feel of university life is through joining Facebook groups beforehand. When you do this it gives you the chance to meet new people and talk before you actually move in. Luckily for you, at Lancaster University a lot of the different colleges make these before moving in, so this is a great place to start.
  2. Sit next to people in lectures or seminars - Walking into a lecture theatre or seminar room can be a daunting thing, but the best thing to do is not to isolate yourself! Sit next to someone, say hi and ask them about themselves.
  3. Use existing connections - You might know someone from home (or from a Facebook group you joined) that will be at the same uni. Message them and ask to meet and you can introduce your friends to them, or they can introduce their friends to you!
  4. Hang out in the kitchen/living room - You don’t want to just sit in your room avoiding meeting your flat, you’re going to be living with them so the best thing to do is embrace it! Hang out in the communal area and meet everyone you’re going to be living with.
  5. Bring a doorstop - This relates to idea number 4; a doorstop is great to prop your bedroom door open if you want. This means a flat mate might pop their head around the door and say Hi - a new friend already made! Remember, that whilst it’s great to get on with your flat mates it’s also fun to have friends outside of the flat as well - meet as many people as possible!

What can I do in Lancaster?

Societies are also a great way to meet new likeminded people, follow interests and have a fun time! There are so many different societies you can join at Lancaster University and they can all be found here! If you can’t find a society that matches your interests there is even the opportunity to start your own.

Fresher’s fair (an event where lots of different societies come together to advertise their society and encourage you to join a society which suits you) can be a good place to start looking for a society to join when starting University.

I am a member of County College Netball. I joined this society in my first year, which was great as I met lots of new people to enjoy university with. County Netball hosts weekly training sessions where you can go play netball and meet new people and they also host matches weekly (weather dependant - you can never rely on the Lancaster weather). If playing netball isn’t your thing then don’t worry. Admittedly I wasn’t very good at netball and did enjoy the Wednesday night socials more!

In first year, County Netball hosted socials most Wednesday nights. These meant that we would dress up in some ridiculous random outfit and head to Crafties (The Crafty Scholar). Crafties is a local bar which tended to be full of university students on a Wednesday night dressed in anything from a bin bag to a bed sheet taking advantage of their cheap drink offers! Examples of me making an idiot of myself are below! After Crafties the team usually ended up having a dance in Sugar (the student nightclub - Sugarhouse).

Whilst jaegers and dressing up in bin bags can be fun, each society has different opportunities to get involved in. If going out and drinking isn’t your thing then you don’t have too! You can do the sport training sessions and the nights out or choose just one to do, and if Netball isn’t what you want to do, then take a look at all the other societies to choose from!

I am also a fundraising co-ordinator for SKIP Lancaster. SKIP is a student-led charity with the aim of supporting children to be cared for and supported in accessing their rights of health, welfare and education in Sri-Lanka. You’ll often find me hosting SKIPs latest fundraiser, whether that’s a quiz, bingo or a themed competition. Go give @skiplancaster on Instagram a follow to get involved! Societies are great for making friends but also developing professionally, as there are opportunities on most societies to apply for roles within the committee.

Grab a friend and go for brunch:

Lancaster has so many lovely places to go for a coffee or lunch. If you’re anything like me and can never turn down a lunch date, then Lancaster is the place for you! Whether you’re dragging out a flat mate, or meeting up with society friends or a course mate, going out for a drink or lunch in Lancaster can be a great way to socialise.

I do have a few personal favourites in Lancaster, one of these is the Cornish Bakery. If you’re a true northerner like me and love pie, then this is the place for you! With their award-winning pies and pasties, I’m yet to find somewhere that beats this. Some other good ones are the Study Room and Cornerhouse (known for their cocktails - tasted and tested by me).

Somewhere I am yet to sit in and try is Kaspa’s. Kaspa’s offer all things dessert, like crepes, waffles and milkshakes. The COVID pandemic has made this difficult for me and meant that I have had to turn to the trusted Uber eats to get takeaway Kaspa’s to satisfy my pancake needs. Me and my flat mate are looking forward to actually sitting in and eating a Kaspa’s when we can. Roll on 17th of May!

Walk off that brunch and visit Williamson Park:

After tasting and testing all the food Lancaster has to offer, you and your friends might want to visit somewhere pretty and walk off all that pie. Grab a friend and take advantage of all the lovely views Lancaster has.

Williamson Park is home to the Ashton Memorial and has lots of different walks to explore. Grab a hot chocolate from the café and explore the grounds of Williamson Park. There are so many different walks to go on in and around Lancaster, including the Lancaster Castle, the Lune aqueduct or the canal.

I cannot wait to have some normality back and be able to do all the things I enjoy doing with my friends when the COVID pandemic restrictions have eased.

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