"I would reach out to people you think you might like to be friends with..."INSTAGRAM/ARTYGUAVA

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I’ve found it really hard to make friends at Cambridge in COVID times and I’m worried about who I’m going to ballot to live with next year. What should I do?


In a normal world balloting is always super stressful and in a Covid world I can imagine this can only be worse. I think it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same position as you and they will be having similar concerns (even if they seem to have their life sorted!). The reality is we are currently putting a lot of pressure on who we live with because of this constructed household situation – a situation which (very very likely) will not be such a big thing in our lives in October.

"The social life at Cambridge is tricky to manage at the best of times..."INSTAGRAM/ARTYGUAVA

Regardless, I would try and talk to one or two people who you think are nice and you would like to get to know better and just ask to ballot with them. I know this sounds quite intimidating but try and imagine how you would feel if someone was brave enough to ask you – you’d probably be very flattered and relieved! So try to put yourself out there and get what you want because you can only try and you’ll thank yourself for trying. If no one immediately springs to mind you can always ballot alone but in the same building as some people you know – it can be a great opportunity to make new friends next year! It is tough but it will be a fresh start.


This is a very tricky situation and you have my fullest sympathy! This is such a new and unique problem and I can’t imagine how frightening and nerve-wracking it must be. The only advice I can think to give is: try to remember that you are not the only person who’s experiencing this. The social life at Cambridge is tricky to manage at the best of times (and this is certainly not the best of times) and compounded with the eternally stressful situation of choosing who to live with, I’m sure it must feel there is nowhere to turn.

Everybody will be being affected by a similar problem in different ways but it might be an idea to reach out in any college/year Facebook pages that you are a part of and explain your situation. There may be plenty of other people who feel as afraid and nervous as you do about reaching out to people, and it could be a great thing for everyone involved if you voiced your worries more publicly. That might seem an equally scary concept, but I’m sure there will be lots of people who can empathise with your problem and will only want to help. It could be a great way to get to know some more people around college.


What this year has made me realise is that it’s never too late to make new friends. I think the idea that the people you meet in Freshers’ Week have to become your best friends for life is super unhelpful, even before a year when Freshers’ was basically non-existent. Balloting can be a very stressful time, but it really doesn’t have to be – it’s as big of a deal as you make it. I don’t think it’s the end of the world if you’re not living out your frat dreams with all of your best friends on one corridor – if anything, having your own space can be a very welcome refuge from the chaos of a Cambridge term.

“...it can be a great opportunity to make new friends next year! It is tough but it will be a fresh start.”

However, the difficulty of making friends generally in these ‘unprecedented times’ is very understandable – I’m really sorry to hear that! I’d recommend not worrying about where you live: the way the ballot works is so unpredictable anyway that there’s little point in stressing over something you can’t really control. Instead, I would reach out to people you think you might like to be friends with – not just those who you have spent time with and really enjoyed, but also those you think *might* get on with – it’s a lot less scary than it sounds and 99% of the time people are very receptive! My inbox is always open at least :)



Mountain View

Coffee, Wine, and all Things Fine

First things first, don’t feel too awful about the prospect of being alone and lacking friends. It’s very common among students (especially freshers) under these special circumstances. Everyone feels more lonely than before and we’re all eager to make friends and have more time together. Making new friends during the pandemic may not be as difficult as you imagine. Although in-person activities of many societies are cancelled, they still hold online activities for you to join in. A small reminder: it’s better to only attend activities that really interest you, so that you can make like-minded friends. Don’t force yourself into activities that don’t interest you just to make more friends. Sometimes having a few best friends is much better than having plenty of superficial connections.