9 ways to make friends while studying abroad

04 Nov 2023
9 mins read
Written by Riona lye

Moving to a new country alone can be both exciting and daunting. It’s a significant adjustment, and loneliness can creep up unexpectedly. Humans are social creatures, and connecting with others is essential for our mental health and well-being. Friendships provide a sense of belonging, especially when living far from home. But building those connections can be challenging, especially in a foreign country with language barriers. Plus, it can be particularly overwhelming for introverts who thrive in quieter settings.

But don’t worry – there are plenty of practical ways to make friends and enjoy a fulfilling experience.

Find communities from your home country

Connecting with individuals from your home country when living in a foreign land can provide a profound sense of comfort and belonging. It’s a reminder of your roots, a taste of home in an unfamiliar place. This connection often feels like being part of an exclusive club, where you share a unique bond that transcends geographical boundaries.

One of the most significant advantages of connecting with fellow expatriates is the shared experiences you have. Whether it’s reminiscing about the quirks of your home culture, discussing your favourite local dishes, or laughing about the idiosyncrasies of your native language, these conversations create an instant sense of camaraderie. There’s a comforting feeling in knowing that you’re not the only one who misses the taste of your mom’s cooking or the familiarity of a local TV show that no one else understands.

As you spend more time within this community, you’ll likely find yourself branching out and meeting new people. This gradual expansion of your social circle is a natural progression. You’ll encounter individuals from various backgrounds, each with their own unique stories and perspectives. These connections can not only enrich your social life but also provide valuable insights into the broader cultural tapestry of your host country.

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Find other foreigners who studied abroad like yourself

Finding and connecting with fellow international students who have also studied abroad can be an enriching experience during your time in a foreign country. Here’s why it’s worth considering:

  • Shared Wanderlust: Fellow globe-trotters have a similar adventurous spirit. They understand the excitement and challenges of living in a foreign land because they’ve been through it themselves. This shared love for exploration can be a great bonding factor.
  • Cultural Exchange: Being part of a group of international students from different countries creates a mini melting pot of cultures. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about diverse traditions, customs, and languages. It’s like having a cultural exchange program within your circle of friends.
  • Common Experiences: Studying abroad comes with its own set of unique experiences, from navigating visa processes to adjusting to a new educational system. Sharing these experiences with fellow international students can lead to meaningful conversations and mutual support.
  • Language Learning: Interacting with international peers can be an excellent chance to practice and improve your language skills. You can pick up phrases and expressions from their languages, and they might want to learn from you as well.
  • Networking: Building connections with other international students can expand your network beyond your home country. These connections could be valuable for future travel plans, job opportunities, or even lifelong friendships.
  • Exploring Together: Exploring the local culture and attractions with fellow international students can be a lot of fun. You can plan trips, discover hidden gems, and create memorable adventures together.
  • Friendship Chains: Often, international students have friends from their home countries or from other places they’ve studied. By befriending them, you might find yourself introduced to a wider circle of global friends, creating a diverse and vibrant social network.

So, while it’s essential to embrace local culture and make friends with locals, don’t underestimate the value of connecting with other international students who share your sense of adventure. They can provide a unique perspective on your host country and add a global dimension to your college or university experience.

Meet people from your programme

Meeting people from your program can be a highly effective and reliable way to build friendships during your academic journey. When you’re all enrolled in the same program, you have a natural starting point for forming connections. Here’s why this approach often works so well:

  • Shared Academic Path: You’re all on the same academic path, which means you’ll have classes together. These shared learning experiences provide a common ground for conversation and collaboration. Discussing class material, assignments, and study strategies can naturally lead to social interactions.
  • Facing Challenges Together: In college or university, you’ll encounter challenging assignments and projects that require teamwork and problem-solving. Working with your classmates to overcome these challenges can create a sense of camaraderie. The collective effort to meet tight deadlines or conquer complex subjects can bring you closer.
  • Study Buddies: As you spend time studying and preparing for exams, you may find that some of your classmates have similar study habits or preferences. Forming study groups or simply studying together can lead to meaningful friendships. It’s an opportunity to support each other academically.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Beyond the classroom, your program may offer extracurricular activities or clubs related to your field of study. Joining these groups can be an excellent way to connect with like-minded peers who share your academic and personal interests.
  • Networking Opportunities: Building relationships with your program peers can also have long-term benefits. These individuals could become valuable contacts in your future career. You might collaborate on projects, attend conferences, or even work together professionally down the road.
  • Social Events: Many academic programs organize social events or gatherings. These occasions provide a relaxed environment for getting to know your fellow students outside of the classroom. It’s an opportunity to bond over shared interests and experiences.

In essence, your program mates are your academic companions on this educational journey. Through shared classes, challenges, and goals, you can forge meaningful connections that extend beyond the classroom. These friendships may become an integral part of your college or university experience, offering both academic support and lasting personal connections. So, don’t hesitate to engage with your fellow students and explore the potential for building friendships within your program.

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Attend your school events

Dive into the vibrant social scene your university offers, including orientation camps, Halloween parties, movie nights, pancake suppers, and burger days. And the cherry on top? Your wallet stays untouched.

You’ll be surrounded by a crowd of people, and even though it may seem overwhelming, everyone is in the same boat, eager to meet new people and chat. Some events even have online groups, making it easier for those who are not comfortable with face-to-face interactions to connect via text. So, don’t hesitate to join the social scene and engage with others.

Hang out with your flatmates, roommates or dormitory mates

One universal truth of student life is this: we’re all broke. The rental crisis isn’t doing us any favours either.

You might end up sharing a pad with fellow college kids and these are your potential networks.

Especially in student dormitories, there’s usually more going on than just midnight cram sessions. Each hall tends to have its own roster of events – all you have to do is show up in your PJs, flash a grin, and be nice.

Granted, you might not click with everyone. When you mix different lifestyle habits, things can get tense, but remember, everyone’s in the same boat, away from home and just trying to stay afloat. You might be able to find some friends amidst the chaos.

Join a hobby or an interest club

Joining a hobby or interest club can significantly enhance your social experience while providing numerous benefits. These clubs connect you with like-minded individuals who share your passion, creating a natural and enjoyable environment for making friends. Engaging in activities you love makes conversations flow effortlessly, eliminating social awkwardness and boosting your confidence.

Plus, being part of a club often involves learning and growing within your chosen interest. You’ll gain new knowledge and skills while enjoying your favourite pastime, making the experience both enjoyable and educational.

Find friends on Meetup app

The Meetup app is a game-changer for those who may feel apprehensive about socializing. It bridges the gap between online and in-person interactions, making the transition smoother and less intimidating. Think of it as your personal social assistant, guiding you to meet new people, explore new interests, and step out of your comfort zone.

The app not only connects you with potential friends but also allows you to pursue your passions and expand your social circle beyond your immediate surroundings.

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Date a native

Consider dating a local resident, as it can lead to seamless integration into their social circle. When you’re in a romantic relationship with someone from the area, you often gain entry to their network of friends. Love can be a catalyst for expanding your social connections – it opens doors to a broader social community.

If you find love, you may find yourself spending time with your partner’s friends, forming lasting bonds. However, it’s important to clarify that we’re not suggesting you become a serial dater solely for the purpose of expanding your social circle. This increased social circle is a natural byproduct of genuine romantic connections.

Or you can choose not to…

You can also opt for a different path. Some people are perfectly content in their own company, while others find socializing less appealing. If you enjoy solitude, embrace it. But if you occasionally crave social interaction, reach out to friends and family back home, even though it might involve managing different time zones.

Before you go…

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This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with the products or vendors mentioned. 

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