Studying Abroad - 5 Tips for Finding Your BFF while AbroadWhile some of us are better at making friends than others, it’s an essential part of college life – making new friends – because it’s unlikely that you’re at college with the people you grew up with, or around, at high school.
However, even social butterflies might falter when it comes to making new friends while studying abroad. Spending a semester, or longer, studying at a foreign university can be as daunting as it is exhilarating, but the friendships you make while there can be just as long-lasting as others – so it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone and making sure you make the most of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Here are 5 tips to help you make friends easily while you’re studying abroad.
1. Bond over foodWho doesn’t love food, right? And we all have to eat, so why not host a welcome meal with the people you share the apartment with, or even your classmates. It’s a great ice-breaker, and many other students will love you for thinking of it, and organizing it.
Get together, come up with a fun menu, set a budget you’re all happy with, and then head off to the grocery store together to get what you need.
The fact you have a common goal will automatically lead to bonding, and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn about others while engaged in simple everyday activities like grocery shopping and preparing a meal.
Once you’ve prepared and cooked the meal, you can all sit down and share with each other while enjoying the fruits of your collective labor.
Best of all, bonding over food is something we’ve all experienced, so it’s familiar territory.
2. Date nightOkay, before you panic – you don’t need an actual date! Just think of the things a couple would do on a typical date night; movie and popcorn, Netflix and chill, playing games, whatever you feel like.
Throw in some pizza and drinks and you’ll find that the relaxed atmosphere is very conducive to learning about the people around you, and maybe forming long lasting friendships with new people.
3. Join up!If you’re studying at a college or university abroad, the chances are they have pretty much the same clubs and organizations as your own college back home.
You could take advantage of a range of fun activities and extend your social network at the same time. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn more about the local surroundings, and even practice your foreign language skills.
Most student clubs, unions, or organizations regularly organize events, which you should also make a point of attending. This idea really pays off if you’re going to be abroad for longer than a semester.
4. Meet the nativesOne of the great opportunities studying abroad offers is to immerse yourself in a different culture – and that means you should consider socializing outside the immediate group of people who surround you (the other students in your classes/course).
Get out and meet the locals. You’ve probably traveled thousands of miles to experience life in another part of the world, the least you can do it get out there and see what day to day life is like.
Everyday places such as bars, cafes, bus stops, libraries, even parks, can be the easiest places to strike up a conversation with others.
The experience will help build your confidence in dealing with different people in a variety of different situations, and who knows what kind of interesting individuals you might bump into. Just be cautious, as normal, when dealing with strangers.
5. Embrace being a touristWhile you’re staying in whatever town or city, get out and do the things tourists normally do there.
It’s the most natural thing in the world. You’ll not only learn more about where you live (temporarily) but you’re almost guaranteed to meet some interesting people who are also strangers to the place, so you’ll immediately have that in common.
Most places have a tourism office or guide center you can consult. You could try a new activity, or visit an attraction each week while you’re there.
It’s easier connecting with people when you’re engaged in the same activity – sightseeing.
So, don’t let the fact that you’re in a strange place make you think that you can’t find a new best friend while you’re there.
Keep an open mind, but most importantly, get out there and meet people – you’ll be surprised how easy it is. Good luck!