Going to University is a challenging experience for everyone. However, going to University abroad can be daunting. Uppermost on many international student’s minds are the challenges faced in making new friends whilst acclimatising to a totally new environment. Here, The Guardian Abroad offers you five failsafe tips to ensure you make friends with your fellow students, many of which will more than likely become friendships which extend far beyond your time at university:
- Everyone is terrified and insecure upon arriving at university. It simply is a game of who can hide it the best. Initially, your first acquaintances at university will be your fellow housemates. Don’t hide in your room and cook at times when your sure no-one else is in the kitchen. Invest in a door-stop. Suggest a communal meal. People will be much more likely to interact with you if you aren’t holed up all day.
- Join in. No matter what institution you are joining, there are a whole host of social media groups for your course and accommodation. Join them. Get stuck in. During Fresher’s Week, there shall be a Fresher’s Fair where all the student societies are available to join in one handy place. Walk around and talk to people. Sign up for a few, even if you plan on only attending one. It is a great opportunity to find people with the same interests, whether it is sport, videogaming or Harry Potter, there is something for everyone. Be open-minded and ready to throw yourself at anything.
- Sit next to people. In the earlier weeks of university, you will find that lecture-halls resemble a game of who can avoid directly sitting next to another person. Don’t be those people. Even if you are a shy and introverted person, break the mould and plop yourself down on a seat next to a stranger and say ‘hi’. Nothing wrong will come of it. Often, the person you have greeted will be relieved they don’t have to sit in an awkward silence for the next hour or two. The next time there is a lecture, the person you said hello to may choose to sit next to you for he remembers your sitting next to him, and conversation may flow. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But you have made another acquaintance through being open-minded and extroverted, rather than shy and introverted.
- Step out of your comfort zone. If you are invited to an event or gathering, just say yes. It doesn’t sound your kind of thing? It doesn’t matter. You’re not a sporty person? Give it a try, or just go and watch. You don’t drink? You don’t have to. Just enjoy the company. You never know who you will meet at university, but you certainly won’t find out if you say ‘no’ to everything that isn’t exactly your cup of tea.
- Be patient. You have several years to make friends at university! You are not going to make lifetime friendships overnight. Don’t get yourself down for having not found your best friend in the opening week. If you follow the advice of this blog, you will have made a number of acquaintances and contacts. Friendships begin as acquaintances. Be open-minded and true to yourself, and friendships will blossom.