If you’re considering studying abroad but worry that it might be more difficult to make friends, fear not! In many ways, making friends as an international student is actually easier! Here are five tips to stay social and make life-long friends during study abroad.
1. Go to orientation
Orientation may be optional - and it may even be boring - but it’s a great way to meet other international students before they’ve settled into a friend group. Once you find some students you might be interested in getting to know more, suggest hanging out at a local café or the campus lawn. They just arrived, so it’s unlikely that they have plans, and if they do, maybe they’ll invite you along!
2. Make sure you have a functioning mobile phone ASAP
In some countries, getting a SIM card can be a hassle that involves paperwork. In others, it’s merely a matter of finding a convenience store that sells them. Either way, this should be early on your to-do list so that you don’t miss out on spontaneous plans.
3. Join some student clubs
Every university worth its salt will have some active student clubs for you to join. Whether it’s based on your hobbies, or just a mutual love of getting discounts at local pubs, there will be opportunities to make new friends. It’s a good idea to join clubs that aren’t predominantly international students to increase your chances of making local friends.
4. Get a roommate or roommates
Although plenty of people live alone and stay socially active, if you’re in a new country and university, getting roommates whether in a dorm or shared apartment is a great way to stay active and meet new people. Even if you don’t have a lot in common with your roommates, you’ll probably get the opportunity to hang out with your roommates friends and your roommates friends’ friends, and sooner or later meet some people you really like.
5. Organize plans to explore your new country
If you make friends but don’t get out as often as you would like, organize some daytrips to sightsee, explore the local cuisine, shop, or go to clubs and bars. Don’t be shy from inviting your local friends either. They might be able to steer you in the direction of local restaurants that they’ve heard about and want to try, art exhibits or book fairs they’ve been looking for someone to go with, or even landmarks they’ve never visited even though they’ve lived in this city their entire life.