Screen and Film School Brighton’s student blogger, Ellenor Jenns, shares her advice for first years on making new friends and finding their support network.
The early days
When I started my first year at Screen and Film School in September 2020, I went through what most first years tend to go through; I didn’t really know anyone in my class except for a few people I’d met by chance, and I was worried that I’d struggle to make any friends.
Of course, my experience was uniquely challenging as this time the previous year, we were very much in the midst of the pandemic, quickly approaching the autumn, which we all knew was the catalyst for yet another lockdown.
Top tips for your first year at Screen and Film School – Read more
Between Zoom sessions (which naturally limited interaction for everyone in the year group), and the ongoing restrictions for outdoor and indoor socialising, it was very difficult to meet new people and find a group of people that I knew would support me.
I’d like to pass on a little bit of advice to all of you who are unsure and provide you with some tips on how to make new friends while studying, and how to find your support network.
Make an effort to introduce yourself
Whether in your lectures, through student-created group chats or during social events outside of lecture time, it’s always a good idea to make the effort and introduce yourself to the people you’re with. Even if you just say your name and pronouns, putting yourself out there and making yourself appear approachable and friendly can go a long way in making friends.
I found that, in my first year, group chats were a straightforward and accessible way for me to converse with people in my year group, and specifically in my groups for lectures. Everybody I spoke to was extremely kind, and oftentimes this led to other, smaller group chats being made so that everyone could discuss tasks for certain modules.
A lot of the people that I met this way have become phenomenal friends – ones that I’ve been able to turn to for support during a difficult time.
Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while
When I started, it took me a few weeks to establish a small circle of people to get to know better, and it took a few more weeks after that to feel like I could consider them friends.
You’ve also got to remember that many of the people in your year will likely be just as nervous about moving to a new city and starting at uni as you are, and it’s perfectly normal for it to take a little bit to find people that understand you.
Go out and socialise
As well as being a filmmaker’s paradise, Brighton is also a city with many main attractions such as the Royal Pavillion (with lots of space to put down a blanket and have a picnic), The Laines (perfect for some retail therapy), Brighton Beach (which is within walking distance of the Old Steine campus), and much more. These are all amazing ways to get out for the day and enjoy yourself with a few people from uni. If nothing else, it’s a chance to break the ice between you and them!
If you and your newfound friends are more interested in what the nightlife in Brighton has to offer, you’re in luck too, with more pubs and clubs than you can count. Whether you’re drawn in by the inclusivity of LGBTQ+ friendly Bar Revenge, or you fancy experiencing the vivacious atmosphere of Shooshh, making friends in Brighton often comes with a late night or two!
Join societies and get involved in extracurricular activities
It might sound really obvious, but joining societies and taking part in film craft workshops can be not only an invaluable tool for your learning, but also to make friends in Brighton and possible contacts in a creative space. For example, Screen and Film School Brighton has student societies including Gays On Film and Film in Colour, both of which are active throughout the academic year and hold weekly meetings for members to attend and discuss events, activities, and sometimes just to catch up!
All in all…
The first few weeks of uni can be scary, and that’s okay. Just about anyone who has gone to uni will tell you that it takes a little while to adjust to all the changes that come with studying anywhere, and everyone is different in how they adjust. As long as you’re true to yourself and you put yourself out there, finding people that you can trust and depend on is inevitable.
And remember, your self-worth is determined by you, and you alone – nobody else. You are just as worthy of kindness, love and compassion as anyone else.