Making friends is one of the best perks of studying abroad. Universities and colleges provide students with various ways to meet others. Between orientation week, social events and class, there is no shortage of opportunities. You may feel it’s challenging to step outside of your comfort zone and engage with others, but remember, everyone is open-minded and in the same situation. If you need a little push, below are some suggestions on making friends while studying abroad.
Get Involved in Orientation Week
Actively participating in orientation week is a great way to get to know other local and international students. Your school may host a separate orientation week for all incoming international students to help them transition; however, it will also encourage students to attend the main events. Orientation week introduces new students to campus, resources, senior volunteers, and other new students. The people you meet during this time will connect you with others throughout your university career and may even be people you’ll remain friends with long-term.
Join a Club
The Get Involved Fair during orientation week is a great way to learn about your school’s hundreds of clubs and associations. These may vary from athletic and academic clubs to miscellaneous clubs. This is the perfect opportunity to try something new, discover a new passion and, of course, make some international friends. You may even join a club to maintain your personal interests, such as soccer or comic books. When it comes to clubs and associations in higher education, the options are truly endless. If you’re unable to find something you want to be part of, why not begin your own club. You’ll find other students with the same interests. Either way, a club is sure to connect you with students of similar interests.
Attend Social Events
Schools put on social events of all types, all year round. Events include concerts, comedy shows, trivia night at the campus pub, ski trips to a ski hill, and many more. Typically student clubs set up tables in a common area on campus to advertise any upcoming events. You will also find various flyers and social media postings sponsored by your host school, so you don’t have to worry about missing an event! You may choose to attend alone or perhaps with a new friend. Social events are a simple way to meet other students in a more structured way.
Engage with Classmates
It’s easy to meet and get to know your classmates. Professors tend to conduct classroom conversations and assign group projects, so you get a chance to converse with most students. As wonderful as it is to have guidance from your professor, you can choose to start your own conversations. Before the arrival of your professor, you can chat with the person sitting next to you, beside you, or behind you. This will ultimately make the environment in the classroom much more enjoyable and exciting.
Volunteer with the International Office
Volunteering with your host school’s international office means engaging with both incoming and outgoing international students. Yes, another way to meet both local and non-students! This is an opportunity to share your knowledge with students, whether it’s on how to apply, what’s needed to prepare, how to adjust to culture shock, etc. Some local students may even be travelling to your home country and are seeking specific guidance. Here is your opportunity to chat and connect and give the student the same guidance you received!
One thing to keep in mind when studying abroad is everyone is in the same boat, meaning all students are in the same situation as you. Be open-minded and take advantage of this. You are sure to connect with some of the most incredible people who may end up being your life-long friends.