How to Make New Friends in a New Country – There will be a thousand thoughts while packing to move abroad – a thousand more when you board the flight. The journey on the way is going to be filled with a series of AV clips in your mind playing the memories of your loved ones, your favorite places in the home country, and imaginary situations that your anxiety creates (far more realistic than AI!) of moving into a new country.
However, think of all the dreamy times yet to come in Building a home-away-from-home, the fragrance of freedom, new experiences and opportunities on the way into your life. All those flashy lifestyles you see on social media are just specks of their actual life. Beware not to be carried away by them. You must have seen those “expectation Vs reality” memes, right?
How to Make New Friends in a New Country
You won’t want your experience of going abroad for studies to be one of those meme templates!
Planning is half the battle. So brace yourself for all the prerequisite planning and preparation before you leave for your new home, whether in terms of your accommodation, finances or just ways to get along in the new place. Yes, finding the right company is as important as your finances or any other aspect you consider is crucial. We are all social beings, after all!
While you must have given enough thought and planning for your primary checklists, I’m here to provide tips on getting you good company in a foreign country. So, here are ten tips for making friends while studying abroad
Try to Learn Their Language
Communication is the key, and to communicate, language is the key (even the body language).
Have you seen the excitement in people’s faces when they hear a foreigner speak in an Indian language? Trust me, people love it when they put in effort to learn a new language.
If there is an official language other than English in that country, try to learn a few phrases to be more confident while moving around the city.
There might be a case where English is the official language in that country. In that case, the trick is to learn the slang used in that place or common analogies.
The words ‘Dude’, ‘Buddy’, and ‘Pal’ are more prevalent in the US, while ‘Mate’ and ‘Bloke’ are much more common in the UK.
You could pick it up by watching TV shows of that country or through a good conversation with some old friend who now lives there!
You’ll eventually get fluent in that language once you go there. You need some staple phrases to survive initially.
Join Community Groups Online
Online community groups are easy to find and become a part of. Of course, you can join communities in your college or university, but the online ones are more accessible.
Explore your options, join several groups, and see which resonates better with you. Well, you can save your time and energy while choosing your tribe.
You can find communities for any of your intersecting interests or commonalities.
Say you are a voracious reader; you could join a reader’s club. If you are an Indian and want to feel at home around your company, you could look for Indian communities and celebrate your favorite festival with them.
Never Miss the Orientation Events
Usually, orientation for freshmen happens over many days. This is when you can participate in ice-breaking sessions and interact with other freshmen.
These orientation events include team-building fun activities and group projects/ presentations where you can share your ideas, listen to theirs and engage with different groups on different assignments.
Make the best use of this time, where you leave an impression of yourself among your peers.
First impressions are the best impressions. Umm.. even if it isn’t the best, know that people are going to remember it. So take the chance and make the right move.
Volunteer for Programs
Offer to help. There is nothing wrong with offering to help. These volunteer projects help you meet a lot of like-minded people.
The members of these volunteer programs are the ones who enjoy the sense of philanthropy. Still, they also participate in these initiatives to meet new people and build long-lasting relationships.
Regular interactions during meetings, activities, and any other time you brush shoulders with them strengthen the relationship.
You might be a lot different from your foreign counterparts, but it is that common interest you share that brings you together.
Initiate That Small Talk
Yes, you read that right. Initiate a small talk.
It might seem contradictory to the popular thought that small talk doesn’t make great connections. But it has to start somewhere, right?
Only sometimes do people get into a deep conversation on their first meeting! Leave alone a newcomer in a foreign land.
So take it slow, smile and say hi to that guy who talks in the gym with you. Ask for small favors, and reach out to help genuinely.
Be sure to understand your comfort zone; don’t overdo it. You neither want to look very reserved nor annoyingly talkative.
Know your audience before you talk, and you can eventually develop a rapport.
Embrace Diversity in Groups
As you sow, so you reap. Being abroad in a foreign land, you need to acknowledge and embrace diversity first to be accepted by them.
The standard practices, likes and dislikes, and lifestyle choices are vivid across the world.
We all have some myths about different people around the world.
Why don’t you take this as an opportunity to bust some myths and get along with people from different backgrounds?
Listen to their stories, tell them yours, and share perspectives.
Because a diverse group is more potent than any other, imagine all the X-men possessed similar powers. Would they be as strong as they are with different powers?
Take a Dip Into the Local Culture
If you travel to different countries, there are two things you should never miss.
The local food and the local culture.
Take a dip into the local culture, which will help you get a better perspective on the lifestyles, habits and behaviors of your native batch-mates.
When they see you indulging in their culture, they are more likely to feel comfortable with you, aiding a long-term relationship.
In Korea, there are online platforms where you can meet to teach them your language and culture, and they’ll teach you theirs!
You can invite foreigners to your traditional weddings in India and get paid for it.
This can bring a wide eye to many… but there are such under-explored ways to learn about their culture. Dig your keyboard and find unique ways to feed your exploration while you study abroad.
Go Where the Locals Go
It is common to get carried by tourist places when you go to foreign land. But since you are going to live there for a couple of years, try and explore the places where the locals go.
Hire a local guide or ask a local classmate to take you to their common hangout spot, like a local restaurant or a public football court.
Trust me, you’ll find treasures there (not the literal one. duh). By doing so, you’ll get to see life beyond a tourist’s perspective. Know more about their life and connect with them at a deeper level.
Live in a Dorm
Sharing a dormitory while studying abroad offers you numerous advantages for making friends.
The proximity and shared living spaces in dorms will make you interact frequently.
You’ll notice that initiating conversations with an inmate gets easier – the more the conversation, the better the relationship.
At the same time, dorm-organized events and activities help you meet people with similar interests. The diverse dorm community also exposes you to different cultures and perspectives, enriching your social experience.
Moreover, facing shared challenges together brings in emotional support among residents.
Take Up a Part-time Job
One reason why they encourage you to take up a part-time job is to support yourself financially during your study abroad. However, that’s not the only reason.
Being an outsider, you might have a high voltage of cultural shock when you start working after graduation. Sometimes, you might shock your employer as well.
So to avoid that, you will be involved in community activities and encouraged to take up part-time jobs to get you accustomed to the culture and lifestyle of the people there.
You can use this to network with the locals or your co-workers.
You’ll crack it once you land there. There are several ways to make new friends while studying abroad. Take every opportunity to build the right connections and long-term relationships.
Other than making friends abroad, if you’re worried about the admissions, scholarships, or anything regarding your study abroad plans.