Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity for many students, enabling them to meet new people and experience different cultures whilst studying. However, it can be an incredibly daunting experience if you are travelling alone to somewhere unfamiliar with no friends, family or contacts local to you. But, once you’ve settled in and made a new group of friends, studying abroad can be one of the best experiences of your life.
Making friends is a huge part of the studying abroad experience, and it plays a crucial part in creating the overall experience that will shape you as an individual. For many students, this will be the first opportunity to leave your hometown and venture out into the great wide world. So whilst it may initially feel very daunting, studying abroad will mean that you’ll find yourselves in unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar people, pushing you to overcome many different challenges that will leave you coming out of the experience with a greater understanding of the world, and of yourself as an individual.
To help students that may be feeling anxious when it comes to making new friends whilst studying abroad, we’ve listed some tips to help you make new friends to ensure you get the most out of the experience and make new friends for life.
Use social media
Social media is a great tool for connecting with people all over the world. It allows you to, albeit virtually, meet new people and speak to them regardless of where they are in the world. Today, many universities have their own social media pages, making it even easier for students to find and connect with each other. Platforms such as Facebook are perfect for joining groups and discovering events in the local area. There are plenty of study groups that you can join and meet with at the local cafe to focus together.
Join a club or society
With all universities, you’ll find a whole host of different associations and clubs that you can join. From sports to gaming to study clubs, there is something for everyone. Being part of a university association or club is a great way to meet people with similar interests – the perfect opportunity for making new friends and meeting others that are looking for study support!
When in a different country, joining a club or society is also a great way to try new things and fully immerse yourself in the country’s culture by getting involved in sport and activities that are traditional to the country.
Attend local events
Take full advantage of any events in the local community as it is a great way to get to know your surroundings as well as new people. If you attend with your new classmates, it’s a great way to experience local culture and start building a bond. As mentioned earlier, there are endless amounts of websites and platforms such as Eventbrite and Facebook that will allow you to to discover these events and even find out who else will be attending. Most universities will also advertise local events for you to attend with other international students.
Throw a party
No matter where you’re studying, students love to party. Throwing a party with some new classmates has always been and always will be the most popular way of making new friends as it allows you to get to know people in a more relaxed and casual environment – just make sure to keep the noise down to avoid upsetting any neighbours!
Playing sports is not only a great way to meet new people and make new friends, it is a great way to blow off steam and unwind from your studying. It’s no secret that studying, especially during exam sessions, can be a stressful time for students. Most/all universities offer a wide range of sports clubs, ranging from more traditional clubs such as football and netball, to mountaineering and pole fitness. Plus, getting involved with sports doesn’t involve working or studying which makes it even more appealing for many students.
Join a gym
Gyms and exercise classes often have a great sense of community as you will start seeing familiar faces and start having conversations with new people, and the added bonus is that it’s a great way to stay fit and focused during your time studying.
There are endless amounts of opportunities when it comes to volunteer work, no matter where you are in the world. You can decide how many hours you dedicate to your voluntary work, so if it’s just a couple of hours a week, or an entire summer break, you can ensure the hours fit in with your schedule. Also, not only is volunteering an incredibly rewarding experience that will help you grow as an individual, but it will also give you new opportunities to meet and volunteer with like minded people. An added bonus is that Recruitment agencies love to see volunteering experience alongside your time spent studying.
Study in local cafes and libraries
Putting yourself in different situations and environments is another great way to make new friends whilst you are studying abroad. Whether you decide to study with your classmates or on your own, it’s likely that you’ll see familiar faces and talk to lots of different people, both students and locals. Speak to your classmates and other students and ask where the popular study cafes are in your area!
Don’t be afraid to make the first move
Starting a conversation with a stranger can be an intimidating thing for many people, especially when in a different country. But this can be an incredibly simple and rewarding way to get to know people that are likely to be feeling the same way. Remember, all friends were strangers at one point!
Get out and about
As tempting as it can be to stay in your room and crack on with your work, forcing yourself to get outside and spend time with new classmates or study in a local cafe, will not only help you get to know people but it is also a great way to experience the local culture and keep in the loop with what’s going on in the area. As cliche as it sounds, the best way to make new friends is to just speak to people and be yourself! Naturally, you’ll find yourself gravitated towards people with similar interests to you, so friendships will start naturally.