A social journey: Next stop – University

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

by Carmen Visser

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

Several ideas arise when hearing the word “socialising”. Some people think of large crowds, others think of drinking and dancing together. However, socialising is much less and much more than this.

Socialising is going to a coffee shop with friends. It’s spending lunchtime laughing with others in the dining hall. It’s even simply smiling at the person sitting next to you in a lecture hall. Socialising is every kind of social contact – big or small.

Oxford Learners Dictionaries defines the intransitive verb, “socialising”, as meeting and spending time with people in a friendly way in order to enjoy yourself. From the above definition, it can be determined that a social-life should be for your benefit. Sadly, this is not always the case.

A social-life can be draining. Surrounding yourself with the right group of people is essential to avoid changing your entire identity just to “fit in”.

On the other hand, you may have found great friends but find it emotionally challenging to constantly be there to support them.

Furthermore, having an active and busy social life can be a major distraction. Some aspects of life that may be neglected include family, academics, and your mental health. Finding a balance between a social-life and a work-life is particularly important at university.

Looking at the benefits, however, a social-life can also mean the change from loneliness to acceptance and happiness. Having close friends can make you feel less alone in the world.

They are there to support you through challenging times while still playing a major role in the fun memories you create. Try to make sure that you have friends who accept you, friends who support you, and most importantly, friends who encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

When leaving high school, many of us are promised a more active social-life at university. We are told that we will make amazing memories being students and build life-long friendships.

Some excel at stepping out of their comfort zone to meet new people while others find it a difficult and lonely time. Does society raise our expectations too high?

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

Our social lives tend to change once we reach university. Some students at UCKAR gave their opinions on how their social settings have changed:

“There are a lot more people at varsity than there were at high school, so I have made a lot more friends. We also go out more because they don’t just want to spend all their time studying.” – Ella

It’s way less fun than my parents said it would be. All work and very little time for play.” – David

“I’ve been having the time of my life. The first term was a good balance between my social life and academics. I might have even done more in the social part. It’s not as litty as home but it’s not bad at all.” – Benny

“For me, I found my niche. My people who accept me and who are as diverse and different as I am. Never felt that before.” - Tali

“My social life hasn’t really changed much since coming here. My friend group is similar to that of before and I don’t have a girlfriend, so it’s about the same.” - Orion

“Since I am very shy and I struggle with big crowds, my social-life has dwindled slightly. I spend more time in my room or with one of my friends from res. I don’t have many friends. I get anxious when it comes to approaching new people. My social-life has not changed much from high school. I still have the three or four core friends and then a few acquaintances. However, I go out a lot less because the workload I’m given is quite a bit and I’m still working on balancing my work and social-life.” – Bertha

“I’ve had a good experience so far. Mainly because I have made new friends outside of my home country and I got to learn about a new culture. As for my social-life, it has boomed because of all the new people I’ve met.” - Bryan

“I have always been an extreme introvert; never really going out with friends. However, since I started attending varsity I have started to go out with friends – about once a week. This includes drinking some alcohol and occasionally smoking.” - Robin

“I have not changed. I am still as antisocial as before.” - Max

“Having come from another province, I knew no one. It’s been fun making a completely new circle of friends. We try to go out at least every weekend. I find that Grahamstown has fun karaoke bars and dance clubs. In the town I come from, there aren’t such places.” - Zara

“Varsity life is very detached. Most friendships are built on a mutual craving for success.” – Iris

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Everyone has a different social-life. Your social-life may be brilliantly busy or enjoyably empty but if it works for you, that’s okay. If you are unhappy about your social-life, this is the sign you were looking for to change it. Maybe you need to step out of your comfort zone and approach someone new. Maybe you need to put a stop to a toxic relationship. Whatever change needs to be made, make it!

After all, socialising should be of benefit and satisfaction to you, not a detriment to your well-being.

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