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Picture of SDU


When new at a university, you are suddenly surrounded by maaany people who you have no idea who they are. We felt the same at our beginnings in Denmark – and we sometimes still do (although university is a place full of cool people, it is not so easy to get to know them!) – so, we’ve started digging around…

In spring 2020, we ran a survey among students at Danish universities (not only SDU). All in all, 123 people submitted their answers to our online questionnaire. Our respondents were both Danish (43%) and internationals (57%) and the following paragraphs summarize what they think about meeting new people at university.

How many people do you know?

We asked 123 students: “By average, how many people from your university do you know?” And the answers?

  • 29,3% know between 0-20 people (quite a big percentage, don’t you think?)
  • 45,5% know between 21-50 people
  • 16,3% respondents know between 51-100 people
  • and a lucky 8% know more than that
But even those lucky ones know just a fraction of all the people. There is more than 27,000 students and 4,000 employees at the University of Southern Denmark. So, if you know 200 people that makes it… 0,006%. Don’t you think it would be nicer to have more familiar faces in the halls?

You probably do think so – simply because or respondents thought so, too. 70% of our respondents said they are interested in finding new friends. Which is good news! Your chances of starting to talk to someone who is actually interested in talking to you are pretty high! We say…give it a shot!

In classes – success guaranteed, in the canteen – not really

Where at university can you find those 70%? We asked that our respondents as well and the answer is very basic – in your classroom! Most of the first-time meetings and introductions take place right there, during your classes. Can you guess the second most common place? Perhaps not surprisingly it is Friday bar. See our map on the right for the rest of the places booming with new friendships – the darker the colour, the more first-time meetings take place there.

One place we would be careful about is a canteen. Although it placed quite high in matter of first-time meetings (you can see that the colour on the map above is rather dark), when we asked our respondents: “When in a university canteen, would you sit next to someone you don’t know?”, majority of them (60%) answered: no. Maybe someone is too hungry to “bother” with a talk? Anyway, maybe it’s time to do something about it and be the one who cracks the smiles!

Picture of map

Yes or no?

Picture of girl holding books


Another simple yes/no question we asked was: “In a library, would you ask the person next to you to keep an eye on your stuff when you need to leave?” And although it is a bit easier interaction than immediately starting a small talk, in 62,6% it was a YES! For the rest of you – how do you do it? Is it that Danish part of us who trusts each other enough to just leave without asking? Or are you afraid to ask and do you carry your things around with you?

The last question in the survey was little sneaky, we admit that. “Would it be interesting for you to hear stories about people from your university?” You sense the trap now, don’t you? Well, do not blame us! Our podcast was at the very beginning at that time and we simply wanted to find out whether such content is of an interest to you! And what a relief when we found out it is! 88 out of 123 respondents showed interest in listening to university stories. Lucky you! A new episode comes out every Wednesday so, hurry up and check them out!

We hope these answers made you more confident to approach new people at university, and remember that the most important thing is to try, the majority of students are open to making new friends! Check out our episodes with fellow students to hear some success stories.

Picture credit: SDU’s website

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