The Social Side of University: It’s Not Just About Alcohol


So, it’s now February, which means you’re one month closer to the day you start university. By now, you’re probably pretty sick of people telling you that university is going to be the best three years of your life and you just want to skip through the rest of the school year, exams and results day until you’re actually here and can find out for yourself.

However, if you’re like the vast majority of upcoming students across the world, your excitement will be mixed with a very real nervousness about what to expect and, most of all, how you’ll settle in. But I can assure you: settling in and making friends at university could not be easier.

When I applied to York, I wasn’t particularly worried about any of that… until 5am on move-in day, when the long car journey north began. I’ve never been so scared!

Five hours later and I could see York Minster above the trees running alongside the motorway and I knew I’d almost arrived – and still the nerves were out in full force.

Eve, on the first night of Freshers' Week
Eve, on the first night of Freshers’ Week

But that all changed once I arrived at my flat, thanks to my new flatmate and next-door neighbour, Eve.


Eve was the first person I met from my new flat and she instantly put my mind at rest. We were clearly both scared senseless about the new experience ahead but that first tentative grin of “oh-my-goodness-what-are-we-doing-here” made me suddenly realise that I wasn’t the only one going through these feelings. This reassured me and helped keep me calm for the rest of the day – even as my parents left the flat, leaving me without them for pretty much the first time in my life!

Myself and a couple of my housemates before a night out
Myself and a couple of my housemates last term

Within the next few hours, I’d bonded with the other members of my flat (there were 7 of us altogether) and we went on to enjoy our Freshers’ Week, even though the following nights brought me my first ever experience of clubbing and staying out until 2am.

Of course, after 2 years at university I am now slightly more used to it…

Another reassuring part of meeting my flatmates for the first time was that I had previously made contact with a couple of them via Facebook before we had started at university. Alcuin College had put picture boards up on their Facebook Page of each block within the college, so you could comment which flat you were in and find your future flatmates and begin talking with them before you even start. However, four members of our flat had not found this before we started, so make sure you keep an eye on your chosen college’s Facebook Page, as this can greatly ease your fears about making friends when you arrive!

David, myself and Jamie on a night out in second year
David, myself and Jamie on a night out in second year

Over the course of first year (and indeed second and third year), the friendships formed within the block became stronger and stronger until I could say that some of my friends were probably some of the best friends I’d made in my entire life. Most of all, my two best friends, David and Jamie. Although Jamie was part of my flat in first year, David lived in the flat above (he joined us in a house in second year), but the three of us became increasingly close and have had many adventures together during our time at university, despite David being on a year in industry in Kent and Jamie being on a year abroad in France this year.

On a trip to London last summer

However, your friendships within your accommodation will by no means by your only friends at university.

When it comes to the course itself, making friends is easy. Thanks to group seminars with (slightly awkward) initial icebreaker activities to help you get to know the other people in your seminars and lectures, which encourage you to engage in conversation with the people sitting near you. This will be invaluable to you during those first few nervous weeks of the course!

Claire and I after assessment hand in
Claire and I after assessment hand in

In the first week of lectures, I met Claire (see left), who has been one of my closest friends during my time at university and who I have shared many memories with, including celebratory meals out after assessments have been handed in and many (some might say too many) film and takeaway nights.

However, if you’re the kind of person that enjoys going out, you may find that many of your closest friendship bonds may be forged on nights out. And, to help with that, the Sociology Society often organises themed nights out and bar crawl events. It’s on these particular events that I became close to Peri and Ciara, who have also become some of my closest friends at university,

For me, one of the most memorable Sociology nights out was the ’90s themed girl power’ night – in which I decided to disregard the most important part of the theme and instead focus on girl power and dress up as Wonder Woman (it was great fun).

Peri, myself and Ciara on the 90s Girl Power night

You’re not just limited to the Sociology Society though.  If it’s the social side of university that you’re looking forward to, York is famous for hosting a huge number of different societies from LGBT, Cat Society and Skydiving. Joining any society is beneficial to meeting new people, have fun and see more of York and Yorkshire on various socials and expeditions, so it really is worth having a look at which ones appeal to you! Go to this site to look at all the current societies available to join at York.

That’s it for this edition, folks! As always, if you have any questions or queries about the blog, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you shortly!

Speak you again soon


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Hello and welcome to the life of a Sociology student at the University of York! I'm Sam and i'm a third year studying Sociology with Criminology.