Stepping into a new country can be both exhilarating and daunting, especially when your friends are miles away at home and you must begin a new search. I myself was faced with a similar prospect – alone and seeking in the south of Spain. The following, however, helped me on my way to gathering a group which ultimately made my year abroad unforgettable.
Living and Studying Together
If you are living in student accommodation you will be inundated with new faces. It’s very easy to make friends when living either in the same dorm or across the way. One of the best ways to make good first impression is to organise a night-out, or if you are aiming for something more low-key, organise and invite people round for dinner in your new place. Often the university or school will have organised these things for you, so find out about social nights by asking around or by looking online. There are usually introduction events and parties within the first few days of term, and there will also be organised events for the holidays such as Halloween and Christmas – depending entirely on what the holidays are within your host country, of course.
Open Yourself Up To Difference
It’s all about embracing rather than shunning when it comes to truly experiencing a new country. It’s important to know that learning and embracing new things will ultimately teach you more about yourself. If it is a language barrier, for example, which you are faced with – start learning the language. Try the new foods, the customs, try everything, and this should inevitably surround you with the local people.
The Online World
It’s much easier to make friends in these modern times thanks to technology. Social networking sites such as Facebook offer groups in which you can join and meet people. This is often the first step taken by those studying abroad – you will more than likely find an online group of classmates by searching your course name and the current year through Facebook. Become a member, introduce yourself with a friendly post and you’re sure to get talking to people in the same situation as you – it’s that simple. You can also join excursion groups and online societies through social networking or your school’s website. If you’re into rock-climbing or interested in forming a rock group, for example, search for it online and you may find a group of kindred-spirits within your school or locality. Remember that you can always look beyond your school-peers and meet some of the locals through joining organisations and societies in your area. A further note – if you can’t find such online groups, take a proactive leap and create them yourself! It’s very easy to create a group with Facebook and you could soon be reeling in bundles of new and like-minded friends.
Back To School
We all remember making our first friends in the old school days. Making friends whilst studying abroad is really not much different. Sitting next to locals in class may spark friendships which will take you beyond the classroom and into the heart of the local scene. Just be outgoing in class and you’re sure to make some friends, local or not.
Don’t remain in your comfort zone – whether that is your accommodation, the classroom, or wherever keeps you stagnant. Explore your surrounding areas, visit attractions such as museums and landmarks, dip into the night-life, go to concerts. There are many ways which will get you out there experiencing your new surroundings, and with new surroundings often comes new people. By going to places that interest you, you could meet people with mutual interests.
Studying abroad shouldn’t be time spent alone. You will meet new people of course, but by following the above advice you could meet new and lasting friends. So be brave, outgoing and adventurous.
Emily Burgess is an avid blogger who enjoys writing about all aspects of self-improvement and wellbeing. Emily is currently sharing some of her ideas at Course Guru – experts in the field of online education. Personally, she’s a great fan of foreign languages.
Category: study abroad