How to make friends abroad: 6 tips
After the excitement of choosing a new city, organizing visas and flights, packing, and saying goodbye to your family it finally hits you: you’re going to study abroad and everything is about to change. Including your friends. Yes, that’s right – your friendship circle is about to grow and get a lot more international.
Just like school and college, studying abroad is a period made for meeting people – so make the most of it by following these tips on how to make friends abroad.
1. Introduce yourself
First thing’s first: to meet people, you’ve gotta say “hi”! An open smile – the kind you can see in someone’s eyes as well as on their mouth – is an easy way to generate trust when meeting people. Think about it: when have you ever responded negatively to a genuine smile? So go ahead, smile and say, “Hi, I’m _______, how are you?” (or a variation on this greeting – you’ll quickly learn how to do this in the language you are studying!). Of course, depending on where you are, there may be gestures or other greetings used when making introductions. You’ll soon pick these up; whether they be a single kiss on the cheek (in Latin America), kiss on both cheeks (such as those you’ll get in Spain, France, and Italy), a wave or hug (like most English-speaking countries), or a slight bow (such as in Japan).
2. Join clubs and activities
Do you have activities and hobbies you’ve always wanted to do but never made time for? Good news: now’s the time! Throw away pre-designed ideas of what you like and don’t like and learn to say “yes” to the chances that come your way. Photography lessons, horseback riding, salsa, hiking, barista or cooking classes – all these and more are fantastic ways to meet other students with similar interests to yours. (Plus, with cooking lessons, you’ll get to eat anything you make – yum!)
3. Try a new team sport
Team sports are well-known for building friendships. The feeling of belonging to a club and knowing that your teammates rely on you for practice and competition is motivating. Combined with the experience of working together towards a common goal (pun intended) forges strong, quick connections. Popular sports will vary depending on where you are studying. Look out for rugby and cricket in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.; football in Europe and American football, baseball and basketball in the U.S. (Extra tip: if you try a sport but don’t enjoy it, then choose a team and cheer them on with other students.)
4. Commit to your shared language
A language barrier sometimes limits people trying to forge deeper connections, which is why learning a shared language can be so beneficial in making true friends. In language class or out exploring your new city together, stay committed to everyday practice and you’ll start understanding the nuances in language that help people relate on a deeper level. It can be tough at first but keep at it and see how your friendships go beyond the superficial and into true friendship territory.
5. Live with other students
Sharing a house or apartment with fellow students is one of the best ways to meet people: you’ll get instant buddies in your housemates, plus meet their other friends. All this gives you endless opportunities to continue expanding your social circle even further. Think housewarmings, birthdays, holidays, potluck dinners, study sessions, and coffee dates in the coolest hangouts in your neighborhood.
6. Remember to stay in touch
Studying abroad is an intense period of growth and change that introduces you to people who will stay with you for the rest of your life. So don’t forget to stay connected to your international friends when you return home. It’s never been easier to do this with email, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and dozens of other platforms to use to keep in contact with your new friends. Believe us: 10, 15, even 20 years down the track, you’ll be so happy you did!
We hope these 6 tips on how to make friends abroad help prepare you for friendships that last a lifetime.