At the beginning of 2022, I was fortunate to start my dentistry journey here in Australia at Griffith University. I boarded a plane from Canada to the land down under, a place I had never visited and did not know a single person, either friend or family.
Like many students venturing into university, I was terrified, excited, and nervous all at once. Here is my recount of what I found helpful in my past year of meeting new people at university.
1. Go to Orientation!
Don’t just go to orientation, sign up for as many in-person orientation events as you can! There are many different events that you can attend; try different social sports, enjoy making friends fast at Mates in Minutes, go on a twilight tour of the Gold Coast, hit up the Rooftop Roller Disco, Dive-in Movie, and Uni Bar Kickoff. Also, check out the many different club stalls that Griffith has to offer! You could meet friends at any event you attend, I did on a campus tour of all things!
2. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Coming to a new country or new university can be incredibly difficult to adjust to; while it is difficult, it is important that you push yourself outside your comfort zone. Remember that you are not alone, many feel isolated and awkward when they first arrive. Try to say yes to new opportunities and experiences, as you never know what may come about. In my first year, I signed up for REACH through the Student Guild, a program focusing on self-awareness and self-improvement which involved sharing with a group. What I didn’t expect was that I met and became friends with a fantastic group of people!
3. Join clubs that interest you!
Griffith University has many clubs that span a range of interests for an affordable price. Many have stalls at O-Week, there is a Club Sign-on Day each semester, or you can find clubs on Campus Groups. If your degree has a club, I’d advise joining! You will meet others in your degree, participate in tailored events (ex GUDSA, the dental club has tradeshow events specific to our degree), and discover beneficial academic resources. University life is not just about classes, so look at other clubs too! Want to try new things around the Gold Coast? Check out Griffith Adventure Club! Are you a woman in STEM or Education? Check out WiSE! There are even groups for different nationalities.
4. Check out Griffith Mates
Griffith Mates is a team that exists to help students adjust to university life in Australia. The MATES put on many events during O-Week and during the trimesters. Past trips included the Australia Zoo and surfing in Noosa! They also have an International Student Buddy Program, where you have a mentor for your first four weeks of study. Additionally, if you want to become part of the team, there are sign-ups each trimester.
5. Try Volunteering
You can do so conveniently with the Student Guild. A great way to meet new people while working on improving your resume is to volunteer through the Student Guild! You can apply to be a volunteer both on or off campus. Picking up shifts is completely up to you and what fits in your schedule. I have packed O-Week bags, run a booth, and gone on a Whale-Watching Tour.
BONUS… Get involved in your community!
Do you enjoy a specific sport? Join a league. Do you enjoy working while you study? Apply for jobs. Are you religious? Join a church. Don’t be afraid to make friends outside the campus.
Make sure that you take advantage of all that Griffith University has to offer, challenge yourself to be open to new experiences and opportunities, and remember that it takes time to make new friendships!
Now go out and be your amazingly wonderful unique self!
Good luck in making mates and crushing your classes,