Making new friends can come naturally to some, but be completely discouraging to others. Many of us are used to living in one place our whole lives and going to high school with the same people we went to elementary school with.
Once you enter into the world of college, making new friends is a must because everyone you once knew from high school will go their own separate ways. One eye-opening, extraordinary way to make friends while in college is through study abroad opportunities.
You may be telling yourself, “there’s no way I can live in another country and make new friends!”
As intimidating as it may be to think about, studying abroad can not only expose you to wonderful new places, cultures, and knowledge but also create long lasting memories and relationships!
Are you considering studying abroad but are scared about going out of your comfort zone and making new relationships? Worry not; check out my five tips below that will give you the confidence to make your experience one for the books!
1. Host a welcome dinner: Once you’ve arrived at your university, you most likely will be staying in an apartment or dorm which means you will have one or a couple roommates. As a way of breaking the ice, suggest hosting a welcome dinner with your roommates.
You and your roommates can collectively take a trip to the local grocery store, put together a fun menu, pitch in to pay, and prepare it together! This can not only be a fun way to hang out with your new roommates but also help you get to know little things about them like who likes cutting the chicken versus who is best at chopping vegetables.
It sounds silly, but bonding over food can create the strongest, longest lasting relationships!
2. Organize a date night: I know I’m asking a lot of you, but I promise it is not nearly as bad as it seems! Another fun way to help break the ice with new roommates/floormates is by putting together a date night.
Date nights can either involve playing board games while eating pizza and snacks or watching a movie with popcorn! Regardless of what you choose, games and movies are fun ways to decompress and find commonalities with people you are not familiar with. Plus, if there is pizza of any kind, any college student will think you’re the coolest person alive. Brownie points for you!
3. Join clubs/unions: If you are studying abroad, there is a great chance that your university will have student organizations and clubs on campus. Clubs and student unions help to not only expose you to fun activities but also to broaden your social circle! More often than not, clubs and organizations hold events off campus and into surrounding local towns/cities, which can help you familiarize yourself with your new home for the next semester!
4. Talk with locals: Part of the beauty of studying abroad is meeting new people, not only within your program and university but in the town where you are located! You can converse with locals easily at cafes, bars, restaurants, libraries, parks, etc.; it is that simple!
Now, I encourage you always to be cautious of your surroundings before you jump into getting to know a complete stranger. However, do not you get timid and worry about the clash of cultures or potential language barrier, but rather, remind yourself of the importance to embrace differences! You did not travel hundreds upon hundreds of miles to talk to the same kind of people with the same interests as those you know back home.
Instead, you took a leap of faith to live in a completely different country to better your education and to broaden your life experiences! In the simplest of terms, we are all human and you are bound to bond with someone regardless of where you come from!
5. Visit fun attractions: As a new resident of the place you are living in, visit all the fun tourist attractions that make your location pop! Museums, art exhibits, music performances, landmarks, etc., are fun ways to get to know the features of your area while helping you find new friends!
Around tourist attractions, there are always large groups of student groups and tours, which means finding more people to connect with!
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Though you are in a different location, making new friends abroad is no different than the process you experienced when you started your first year of college. Being open to new experiences and cultures will not only help you be exposed to more people but it will also create memories to last a lifetime. As always, good luck!