Hey readers!

Have you ever felt lonely? This may sound like an obvious question. Of course, everyone has experienced loneliness at some point in their lifetime. But how has university influenced this experience?

A recent study has shown that nearly 70% of university students in Canada have reported feeling very lonely within the past year, with nearly 30% of them feeling that way within the last two weeks before the study was taken. Clearly there is a problem of loneliness on campus. But what is it exactly?

Why are we so lonely?

How can university students be so lonely? Aren’t we constantly surrounded by people on campus? Whether that’s sitting beside people in a large lecture hall or squeezing yourself into a cramped bus, you can’t get away from people on campus. But loneliness is not about how many people you are surrounded by, it is more about who you are surrounded by and how you interact with those people. Sometimes our loneliest times can be in a crowd of people.

There are many reasons why university students feel lonely. Many of us have moved away from home when we came to university and now find ourselves away from family and old friends. Some of us who have moved here from other countries may feel even more isolated because of the cultural differences.

We also come into university with many high expectations of friendship. People always claim to have met their life-long friends in university. While this may be true for some of us, it can create a tremendous amount of pressure for those of us who haven’t. We may feel like we are the only ones not making these long-lasting friendships in university and there must be something wrong with us. But remember, nearly 70% of us have felt like this in the past year. You are not alone.

What is loneliness?

I want to clarify the difference between loneliness and solitude. Solitude can be a beautiful place that makes room for personal growth and self-reflection. Solitude can be a very healthy state of being at times, and, in fact, I encourage readers to create some time for yourself in the day that doesn’t include interacting with people.

Loneliness, however, is not solitude. Loneliness is helplessness. Loneliness is feeling like you have no one to turn to when you’re in need.

We often forget that we are social creatures. Today’s world emphasizes independence and strength. While these two qualities aren’t bad on their own, it is important to find the place where we draw the line. Too many of us end up suffering alone in silence because asking for help is often looked down upon. Because of this, we no longer turn to our communities for support. This seems to be particularly relevant to university students where most of us are learning how to be independent for the first time and are trying to prove we are self-sufficient.  But with all the stress that comes with being a student, this is the time we need social support the most.

What can we do about it?

Here are a few tips to help you with loneliness:

1. Change the way you view socializing. Treat socializing like you would any other health-promoting practice, like exercise and nutritious eating. We exercise and eat healthy foods to promote our physical health and help prevent disease. In the same way, we should treat socializing as a regular, ongoing practice to benefit our mental health.

2. Understand what loneliness is and recognize it in your own life. So many times, we are scared to admit we are lonely because we think it makes us less of a person. Instead, we should not be afraid to recognize loneliness in our lives so that we can make the conscious decision to try to change it.

3. Find a social activity that happens on a regular basis. Sure, it’s great if you go on a hike with a new friend one weekend or go for coffee after class. But the uncertainty of whether you will find time to do such an activity again can contribute to the feeling of loneliness. Instead, find an activity that you know will happen on a regular basis. Join a hiking group or make a deal with your friend to grab coffee every Monday. Our strongest connections are made through activities we return to.

I hope you found this blog post helpful!

Love always,


The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the polices or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.