Blog post

Fitting in and making friends

When Simona first arrived at University she was afraid that, as an international student, she would feel alone and that it would be difficult to make new friends. After all, if you’re not from Derby you’re most likely leaving behind family, friends, your hometown or even country, and most importantly your comfort zone. Fortunately for Simona, these feelings didn’t last long.

By Simona Velcovska - 4 July 2019

Welcome Week

It took three or four days for me to settle in, then all the fun started – Welcome Week for international students. This is a week where various events for Freshers are held. From morning until evening, it’s an opportunity to get to know the new environment, the University and especially to meet new people. It’s best to go to every event because you’ll meet so many people who feel exactly the same as you! They’re also new, they don’t know anyone and they are looking for new friends too. I remember thinking “yeah I miss my family and friends, but this is much better than I thought, much easier”.

Induction week

After the adventures of Welcome Week finished, university and studies began – the induction week. Of course, I was nervous and I was afraid I wouldn’t find any friends, but thanks to the events and in particular the group work we had to do, I met new people so easily.

As a group, we had to work on a project and create a presentation together which was a bit challenging as we didn’t really know each other, but it was a great experience to meet and work with new people. It gave us a chance to share our experiences and get to know each other, talking about our choice of course, our hobbies and so on. Thanks to the induction week, I met a lot of my future classmates. When we then saw each other during the first week of University, it wasn’t like we didn’t know each other. We could already say hello and shared common interests – we already knew a lot about one another.


As part of induction week, there is also a fair for Freshers – an unforgettable event. Not only do you get to pick up lots of free interesting things (plus free pizza!), but you also have the opportunity to sign up to societies and sport clubs, which is a great opportunity to find new friends. The University offers plenty of opportunities so I believe everyone can find something to suit them, and if not then you can set up your own society and invite new people to join in.

University events don’t end in September though. Events take place throughout the year, such as BBQs, bingo, cookery classes, baking classes and much more. You can meet a lot of new people and have fun together.

Reaching out

Finally, I just want to say, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone new – individually, within group work, through a club or society – because you never know if that person will be your friend for life. I know from my own experience that being brave is the best thing you can do. I remember one day I was sitting alone and we had to split into groups for an assignment. Fortunately, sitting next to me was one of my classmates, also alone, so we looked at each other and somehow agreed that we’d work together. If it weren’t for that moment, I’d never have met my best friend at Derby.

About the author

Student Simona on campus

Simona Velcovska
Student of Marketing focused on PR and Advertising

I'm a student from the Czech Republic who came to study Marketing because I didn't get that opportunity in my country. What I like about this decision is that I enjoy the different life here and the opportunities the University offers me. Among other things, I love travelling and learning about new cultures and especially people's stories.