Making friends when studying abroad is considered key to having a good experience. When you land in a new country, completely unknown to you and where you have no bearings it can be very disturbing and make you feel like you should not be there. This is why the first days can seem so daunting : you haven’t got time to get to know other study abroad students yet, let alone actual students from your new university. Having lived here for more than three months now, let me share with you my top tips for making friends. Even if you came with friends from back home you might be willing to expand your circle, so here’s my advice !
Choose your accommodation wisely
If you have opted for on-campus accommodation, you are one of the lucky ones as you have here a golden opportunity. You are very likely going to share a flat with seven other people and therefore potential pals! Don’t hesitate to create a group chat and organise a dinner party to get to know each other.
I personally did not have access to on-campus accommodation so I chose to live in a flat share and this is also a great way not to feel alone. They might not necessarily have the same life, for examples my flatmates are about my age but already working. This does not mean they can’t become friends, or at least allow you to feel more at home when coming back to your flat after a long day at uni or out exploring your city.
Go to all the Welcome Week events
It is the sole purpose of this week : to help you get to know all the other students, make friends and have fun! Even if you are probably going to be alone at the beginning, don’t be scared because most of the other students will be alone too and this is normal. There are so many activities organised and carefully choosing the ones you will go to allows you to meet students with similar interests, though being abroad in the same city is already quite an important similarity!
Be outgoing in class
This is probably the least easy way to make friends, but I thought it would be interesting to discuss it because this is how you are most likely to meet, in my case, British people or at least people doing their full degree here because bearing in mind that London is extremely multicultural, which is also its charm! If you feel a bit homesick, chances are you might actually meet someone studying here full time who is originally from your country, or somewhere else and who will understand you perfectly. Also it’s a really nice feeling to comeback to class every week and see familiar faces to fight the sometimes-off-putting workload of university.
Try opening your circle outside of uni
I made the decision to move to London in August, a month before university started because I wanted time to settle and feel more at home. Far from regretting this decision, it is obviously harder to make friends in such conditions but not impossible. If you have never heard of the website Meetup this is a real goldmine. The principle is simple: people create and then advertise their event, say for example a cinema night, a cooking session or even just a visit in a museum, if you are interested you mark yourself as going (like with a Facebook event) and you show up, ready to meet new faces around a common activity. It is a great way to make friends because you actually have something to bond over and if you don’t manage to find friends you will still have a great time doing that activity, definitely a win-win situation! Another good tip to find pals outside of uni is to browse through Facebook groups for newcomers to your city. You will find young people working, students from other universities and also people taking a gap year, more than happy to make friends.
Breaking news,you do not need friends to enjoy your experience abroad, especially if you’re very independent and enjoy being on your own! That being said if you enjoy company, they will make it so much more fun so don’t be afraid to actually go out of your comfort zone and don’t let the language barrier stop you! It might be a struggle at the beginning but you will quickly improve and have a blast with your new friends.
Study abroad pals are truly precious. Since you share such a special experience together, in no time you create deep bonds with them and they become almost like a family: one you created yourself and that is the best feeling !