Starting university is daunting for everyone, but doing so in a foreign country can be terrifying. But with a great group of friends, the experience to study abroad can be one of the best of one’s life. Friends may help ease the effects of culture shock, homesickness, or other health issues. They may also help one settle in and understand a different cultural context, and they are people one can explore their new environment with. While studying abroad in Europe, for example, one may come across many opportunities to travel to a neighbouring country, which can be easier and more fun with friends.
The social environments and opportunities for making friends will be very different. There’s nothing inherently wrong with only hanging out and sometimes this is the easiest and most comfortable way of socializing. In an unfamiliar atmosphere, it can be comforting to have friends who understand one’s language, customs, and what life is like back home. Since many study abroad participants want to meet local students, it’s essential to be aware that this sometimes takes a bit of effort. One may also get the chance to hang out with other international students from a different country to their own, and one should seek out these opportunities. Some study abroad programs welcome students from all over the world. While making friends with local students can be challenging, forming friendships with other international students—whether they’re Finnish, South African, Thai, or otherwise—may feel more comfortable because they’re in a similar situation. Studying abroad is an exciting time, and throws many students out of their comfort zones. Indeed, that’s what a lot of students seek when choosing to study abroad—totally new cultures, experiences, and languages that will challenge them to grow educationally, personally, and even professionally. But with all the planning that one puts into their program, like choosing a destination, securing funding, finding housing, and selecting courses, one factor is often overlooked. How will one make friends? Will it be easy to make friends while studying abroad? Here are some ways to make friends when studying abroad and make the most of the new university life.
Take advantage of social media | Ways to make friends when studying abroad
One should not be shy when reaching out to new classmates and peers on social media. It’s a great way of finding out what others are up to and joining in! University Facebook pages and Twitter accounts can help to learn people’s names and also let one know what events are coming up so that one can make sure they have time in their (now very busy) schedule!
Be prejudice-free | Best ways for making friends while studying abroad
Although one may think they know who their ‘type’ of a friend is, one should not let that hold them back. University is full of all different kinds of people and one shouldn’t make snap judgements about anyone before getting to know them. Friendships can spring up in the most unlikely of places. It’s great if the student is able to establish a group of amazing friends at university. But one should try and make a few friendship circles in different areas of their student life, such as people from their class, in the clubs they join and in their accommodation. One should think about their interests and how they might manifest in one’s host country. If one enjoys cinema, joining a group that watches and discusses films each week is a great way to meet people and improve one’s language skills. If someone’s into hiking and are craving an outdoor adventure, a local trekking group might be right up their alley. This means they’ll always have someone to call if they need company, and guarantee they’ll never have a dull moment!
Be bold | Ways to make friends when studying abroad
University (especially if anyone is studying abroad) is all about new experiences and it gives the student a chance to meet people from all walks of life. So one should put thyself out there and start doing things that are a bit outside their comfort zone. Try windsurfing, yoga, ballroom dancing, volunteering or simply saying ‘hi!’ and asking ‘how’s your day been?’ Join the football team, take up a cookery course etc.
Join a club | Ways to build friend while studying abroad
There is, thankfully, a club for everyone at university – from sports teams and drama to the more wacky hobbies. These give the best chance to meet other people who are also looking to make friends. Best of all, one would already have something in common with the people they meet which provides the ideal icebreaker. And usually, societies will host lots of meetups, so one can get to know everyone better while bonding over their shared interests.
Visit all possible events | Ways to make friends when studying abroad
One can take advantage of the first few weeks of the university as much as possible. Friendship groups won’t have fully formed yet, so this is often the best time to make friends. While not all students have travelled thousands of miles for their studies, most will have left home for the first time and will be just as keen to find a friendly face.
Organise friendly parties | Making friends while studying abroad
One should make dinner a communal activity in their new home? It’s the perfect excuse to get everyone out of their rooms and have fun in the kitchen. If anyone’s not a confident cook, one should not panic! One can take turns cooking with their housemates or cheat and buy some ready meals! Most people will just be happy to share something simple, especially if they are sharing a dish from their home country.
Don’t be confined to the room | Ways to make friends when studying abroad
One should spend as little time as possible holed away in their bedroom, even if they have decorated it to look amazing! One of the best parts of the university is getting to work with other students, in study groups or on shared projects. Nothing unites everyone as much as an all-nighter in the library with snacks. When given a group project assignment, one should not just opt to team up with fellow international students; try and find some local students to partner up with. One would have lots of time to chat, come up with great ideas and celebrate their success over drinks.