I'm returning to the office and haven't had the opportunity to physically meet the 10 or so people I'll be sharing it with in the coming year.

Not all of them are researching the same thing as me and most of them are in their final year of postgraduate education so I'm kind of overshadowed as a first year.

As far as socialising goes, how do I make friends in graduate school? Is it socially acceptable to just walk up and say hi? I'm so introverted and worried I'll spend too much time alone :(

  • 5
    Very unlikely that you are the most introverted person in the group. And you can overcome that with practice. Being a bit outgoing is a skill you can learn. How you "feel" and what you "do" can be different.
    – Buffy
    Sep 28 at 21:54
  • @Buffy You mean based on the evidence that they asked this question? :)
    – Kimball
    Sep 29 at 14:52
  • @Kimball, good point, but actually on the likely overabundance of introverts (like us?) in academia.
    – Buffy
    Sep 29 at 15:22

Your imagination is almost always worse than reality. Similar to you, I bet there are lots of other people feeling awkward or unsure of how to navigate social situations. It's totally OK to cue people in to your situation. You might say "I don't know many people around here" or "I'm new around here and trying to figure things out".

I highly suggest going to on-campus activities or joining a club (on or off campus) that has regular meetings. Also, consider doing some volunteer work. Volunteering is great because there are often many opportunities where you NEED to talk to people to learn what to do or to get the work done. A nice perk of volunteering is that by doing something helpful for others, it often makes an individual feel better about themselves :-)

During grad school, I didn't have a lot of good friends on campus, but found that my off-campus activities were much more rewarding. The university is a sort of default, built-in community, but it doesn't have to be your ONLY community. Find what feels good to you, and then keep doing that.

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Yes it's definitely okay to just walk up and say hi. Especially since they are more experienced and some are researching different things than you, since you now immediately have your conversation starter: "What are you researching/working on right now?". From there the conversation could go on comfortably, and you can talk about your own work.

By the way - being introverted doesn't mean you can't develop social skills, just that you need more time alone to recharge from social interactions. So practice those social skills! With 10 new people, there's a decent chance you'll get along well with a few of them.


Making friends in graduate school can be tough, especially if you're introverted. The best way to make friends is to get involved in activities or groups that interest you. Some schools have graduate student associations that hold social events, or you can join a club or team. It's also a good idea to reach out to your classmates and chat with them online or in person. A great way to break the ice is to ask them about their research. If you see someone you want to get to know better, don't be afraid to say hi. A simple introduction can lead to a lasting friendship.

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