Making friends at Durham (introvert versus extrovert edition)

Lily Best and Ronnie Guha

Before university

It doesn’t matter who you are. Beginning a new chapter of your life is daunting. There is a certain sense of security about being at school or college. Who knows what lies behind the door? No-one ever truly knows everything about university up until the moment they arrive.

Leaving that sense of security and gaining independence is exciting in some ways but nerve-wracking in others. As an introvert, making friends and trying new things may take you outside of your comfort zone. Extroverts can easily be nervous about these things as well, even if they are more used to them. We (Lily, the introvert, and Ronnie, the extrovert) are here to talk you through the ways in which you can go about doing these, whether you are an introvert (like Lily) or an extrovert (like Ronnie).

Making friends at Durham

Upon arrival at Durham, the first people you will meet are those you’ll be living with in college. Although you won’t necessarily become close friends straight away, things like communal dinners in catered colleges, or being able to cook together in the kitchens of self-catered colleges or private accommodation, allow you to socialise in a relaxed environment from day one. This is a straightforward way of making friends for both introverts and extroverts. From our experience, the fact that everyone was in the same boat made it easier to speak to anyone. Colleges are close-knit communities, and for us they became our new sense of security. 

There is also the opportunity to make friends on your course. All courses hold introductory talks during fresher’s week, allowing you to meet those you’ll be learning with. As an introvert studying Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC), specifically Russian and Spanish, I (Lily) was certainly taken outside of my comfort zone, and this was something that I embraced. Having intimate classes meant that I was forced to speak with my classmates, and now we are close friends – we meet outside of lessons to revise together or go to the café together after lessons. 

studying with friends from Russian class

Studying PPE, I (Ronnie) find myself in much larger lecture halls which are less intimate than those of MLAC. The chances of sitting next to the same person each week is slim to none. Sometimes, I’ll message a friend or two from college that I know is in the same module as I am so we can walk and sit together. Seminars and tutorials, however, do provide some chance to meet people studying the same modules as you. As an extrovert, I often find myself saying hello to those I bump into that I recognise. 

Political Theory seminar

Sports and societies

One of the best ways to make friends is by joining sports clubs and societies. The collegiate system makes them extremely accessible for beginners, but there is also the option to join University or Students’ Union sports and societies too. From my (Lily) perspective as an introvert, I was interested in continuing my hobbies from before university. So, I joined the Durham Pole Dancing Society, Durham University Gospel Choir, and I recently joined the Durham DanceSport Team. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people from other colleges and sharing our interests through these. I also decided to challenge myself by joining college rowing and mixed lacrosse, both of which were new to me. I love these because they have allowed me to build stronger friendships within my college community. 

As an extrovert, I (Ronnie) was keen to get involved. For example, I knew I wanted to join rowing. Other clubs, I decided to join on a whim. My flatmates convinced me to go to Grey Mixed Lacrosse although I had no intention of playing the sport – it is now one of my favourite clubs. Also, I (somewhat randomly) decided to join the Grey College Charity Fashion Show despite not being fashionable in the slightest. That was a highlight for me this year and was an exciting experience where I met an array of different people. As Head of Fundraising, I organised fundraising events in college which was difficult but rewarding. 

my rowing team

All in all, you might want to continue what you’re already doing or try something completely new. Both are valuable with regards to making friends and being part of the Durham community. 

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Lily Best and Ronnie Guha

Lily:
Hi, my name is Lily! I am a first year Modern Languages and Cultures student in South College! In my degree, I am studying Russian and Spanish. My free time consists of rowing for my college, singing in the Durham Gospel Choir, dancing as part of the Durham DanceSport Team and I am also part of the Pole Dancing society!

Ronnie:
I’m Ronnie, a fresher at Grey College studying PPE. In college, I am part of football, mixed lacrosse and rowing. I am also Head of Fundraising for Grey College Charity Fashion Show 2023. Outside of college, I play lacrosse for Team Durham and am a member of Durham University Curry Club.

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