Loneliness and making friends at uni

University is meant to be one of the most exciting times of your life – learning independence, experiencing freedom and meeting interesting people who will become lifelong friends. It’s a time of many changes and if you’re not ready for them, it can lead​ to feelings of vulnerability and loneliness. These are completely normal feelings.

It’s important to ‘normalise’ the feeling of being lonely. Why? Because it is normal. Talk to someone you trust – your flatmate, someone in your student accommodation, a classmate or a Student Hub advisor. Don’t hide away; there are lots of people at AUT who can help.

5 ways to address loneliness

Sometimes loneliness feels worse because you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere. University will likely be different from your high school, your hometown or home country. Joining a club is a great way to meet new people and make friends.

Speak with AUTSA (the AUT student association) and find out what clubs are available at AUT. Also look outside of AUT, as there are great clubs and societies in the community too.

Useful links to check out

What our students say

“Besides enjoying the academic side, the extracurricular side of getting involved with AUT life has been amazing! I’ve joined many clubs, have founded my own club, have taken up numerous leadership positions and have participated in all the free and fun events AUT puts on. These have all been highlights of my time at university.”

Viola Ember, Bachelor of International Hospitality Management in Accommodation and Event Management

“There are lots of opportunities and activities you can take part in, including the Shadow a Leader programme and a wide array of clubs, including clubs for business students. I particularly enjoyed joining clubs like the AUT Economics Society and the AUT Board Game Club, and completing the AUT Edge Award.”

William Austin, Master of Business in Economics, Bachelor of Business in Economics and Finance

“There are many fun clubs and events to join at AUT. Believe it or not, they even have an anime and gaming club. The best way to make it through uni is to make good friends; friends who keep you in check, friends to work with on assignments and friends you can ask for help. If we all come together, think of the great things and memories we can achieve.”

Luna-Rossa Lomitusi-Ape, Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Electrical Engineering

The act of making someone else feel better can make you feel better. Plant a tree, cook for the homeless or for more ideas speak with the staff in the Employability Lab or join the Volunteer Team at AUTSA.  It is also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people.

You could also get formal recognition of your volunteering activities and employability skills by completing an AUT Edge Award or Beyond AUT Award.

Useful links to check out

What our students say

“My advice for other students would be to go and volunteer or start an internship, and go the extra mile. Volunteering increases your confidence while giving you the chance to socialise, network with the industry and, most importantly, a chance to practise what you’ve learnt.”

Jullian Liang, Graduate Diploma in Arts in Event Management

“The high points for me included working as a media intern for New Zealand Fashion Week, volunteering as a communications manager for BizTech Labs, and being an event co-ordinator for the AUT Scholars Society. For the Scholars Society, I organised a charity gala that raised over $5,000 for GEE Nepal and Duffy Books in Homes, and won the AUTSA Community Engagement Award. I enjoyed learning a lot, but to put the theoretical components into practice really helped me realise what I wanted to do.”

Shae Parsons-Wanoa (Ngāti Porou, Samoan), Bachelor of Business in International Business and Strategy & Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations

“For the AUT Edge Award, I completed volunteering, leadership and employability activities that challenged and encouraged me to develop my skills. For example, meeting with students and professional people helped me build networks and friendships, as well as upskilling my soft skills to prepare me in my future career.”

Lavenia Ana Taliai-Mataitini, Bachelor of Arts in Conflict Resolution

We encourage you to find a balance between doing well in your studies and being well physically. You need to put the same effort into sleeping well and eating well as you would to study well. The opposite can lead to bad health habits, and tiredness can increase your worries.

Look after your wellbeing

Being well has a significant and positive impact on your studies. Use our tips and resources to look after your physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing.



You may find the more you’re prepared, the less anxious you will be if a sudden invite to coffee, or a movie, or concert or fun activity lands in your lap.

Have a study plan that has breaks or time off from study so you can have guilt-free fun and limit stress.

Start with saying “hi” to at least three people every day and extend your conversation to “how are you?” or “how are you doing with our latest assignment?” or “how was your weekend?”.

Once you start talking with others it becomes much easier. Soon you will work out which people you would like to be friends with, and you can ask them to join you for a cup of coffee or for lunch.

Don’t forget to smile – you'll find that smiles will come back to you.

Tips for meeting people and making conversation

  1. Sit next people in lectures. If you turn up to a lecture theatre where you don't know anyone, it's easy to just look at your phone. Don't do that. Sit next to someone and introduce yourself
  2. Organise a study group. Many minds together can make an assignment a lot clearer. Even if you have great understanding, teaching someone else helps cement the ideas
  3. If you're shy, put up a notice up with your phone number on tabs – this makes it easier for other shy people to connect with you

Making friends at AUT

It’s easy to meet new friends and make social connections while you’re studying at AUT. Some of the ways to meet people include:

Friends walking together

The do's and don'ts of making friends at uni

Here are some extra tips for making friends when you start university.

What you should do

  • Compliment people: it feels weird at first, but this is the perfect way to start talking to someone new
  • Say YES to everything: university is all about trying something new and getting out your comfort zone
  • Use existing networks: if you have friends from home or family members at the same uni or in the same city, get them to introduce you to their friends
  • Show an interest and listen: genuinely listen to what people say and respond like you care. People will want to keep talking to you
  • Make multiple friendship groups: your flatmates aren't the be all and end all; it's best to have multiple groups of friends in different areas of uni life
  • Remember names: we know it's hard when you're meeting so many new people at once. Try repeating it back to them when they introduce themselves

What you shouldn't do

  • Get too drunk: stay safe and try not to become a liability for your friends to look after
  • Judge people: you're probably going to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, but don't judge people just because they're different from yourself
  • Put too much pressure on friendships: becoming friends with someone on day one doesn't mean they have to become your Best Friend Forever (BFF) for life
  • Become someone you're not: people will appreciate you more for being your authentic self

Contact us

The Hub

Need help or have a question?

Contact the Student Hub throughout your studies at AUT.

Email: studenthub@aut.ac.nz
Phone: 0800 288 864
Contact us online

Hub hours

Look after your wellbeing


Being well has a significant and positive impact on your studies. Use our tips and resources to look after your physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing.