A year of firsts | Lesson #3: Making friends is a verb

A year of firsts, or how I learned to stop worrying and love university

This is the third instalment in a series of blog posts by second-year Arts student, Breckin Baillie. He shares his experience as a first-year at UBCO, and gives tips about making the most of your university experience. If you haven’t done so yet, check out part one and part two of Breckin’s journey.

Hey everyone, my name’s Breckin and I just finished my first year here at UBCO. If you had told me a year ago that this year at university would have been one of my best years ever, I definitely would not have believed you at all. University felt like my Everest: this big insurmountable obstacle that I was fairly certain would chew me up and spit me out.

Chances are that some of the incoming first-years reading this may feel the same way — nervous, uncomfortable, anxious. That’s all normal, I promise, but there are ways to make the transition easier so you can make the most of your first year.

Here are some of the most important lessons I learned this year.

Lesson #3: Making friends is a verb

If anyone reading this is like me and struggled with making friends in high school, take heart: it gets easier.


A very important thing to remember is most, if not all, first years are in the exact same boat as you. Everyone else is likely feeling a little shy and alone as well. It’s not quite like kindergarten where you can walk up to someone and ask if they want to play, but it can be something just as simple as turning to the person next to you and saying, “Hi, my name’s Breckin. What’s yours?”

In my experience, everyone was just as eager to make friends as I was, and I made more than a few friends just because I introduced myself to them. It can be scary to put yourself out there, especially if you haven’t had lots of experience, but something as easy as a smile or a friendly conversation can go a long way in forging relationships.

Of course, there are a lot more ways to make friends than just through classes. Even though things may have changed with the move online this year, there are still lots of ways to get and stay connected.

“It can be scary to put yourself out there, especially if you haven’t had lots of experience, but something as easy as a smile or a friendly conversation can go a long way in forging relationships.”

If you’re staying in residence like I did, the RAs will put on events fairly frequently. Go to them (even if they’re online)! They’re a great way to meet people and to get to know your RA and floor-mates as well. I made a really good group of friends because I happened to walk into my floor lounge at the same time a group of people were playing cards.

Where I made the most of my friends was in the campus clubs. There are tons of clubs and groups on campus that cater to everyone’s field of interest. (I’m not joking. There’s literally a Medieval Club where people wear armour and practice sword fighting.) I joined UBCO Beats, the a cappella club, and I met so many great people, people who I am proud to call my friends and peers.

My best advice to incoming first years? Participate in all the things, even if you’re not sure it’s something you’d be into. Check out that Medieval Club webinar, or join a virtual yoga class. You could find a new passion or make some friends, and if nothing else, you may still discover a new like or dislike.

It all circles back to the fact that everyone else wants to make friends too. It can be daunting, but putting yourself out there, speaking up, and being present is the best way to make friends.

In the next instalment of this blog series, Breckin will talk about navigating university courses. Check it out here: Lesson #4: surviving the workload, and if you haven’t read the previous sections, check them out here: part one, part two.


Are you a student at UBC’s Vancouver campus? Learn more about UBC Vancouver’s clubs, events, and virtual fitness classes.


Breckin BaillieAbout the author

Breckin Baillie is an English major, an avid singer, and a lover of dogs. He is currently in his second year of UBCO’s English program. He plans to continue his education past his undergraduate studies and eventually earn his PhD in English Literature, with an aspiration to one day become a university professor.

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