Moving to study abroad can often mean that you end up in an unfamiliar country where no one knows your name. And that’s why good friends make all the difference! In a new blog, Student Ambassador Sandra shares their top tips for making friends in a new place. Read on to find out foolproof tips and tricks…
Three years ago, I decided to transfer schools and move to Cork, Ireland. Moving to Cork meant being in a new city where not a single person knew my name. While this fact made me feel free and excited to be whatever version of myself I wanted to be, it also left me feeling scared that I could feel lonely. To combat this, I planned to make new friends that I could use as a support system!
Since I was entering the second year of a four-year course at the Munster Technological University, I was nervous that all the students in my course wouldn’t need a new friend. And, if I couldn’t make friends in my course, then I didn’t know how to make friends at all.
But… once I was physically in Cork, I realised that I needed to at least try. I decided that this new version of myself that no one knew would be an extrovert (even though I was an introvert up until that point). In other words, I faked it ’til I made it! And I did make it. I made a lot of friends. Some of whom I am still close with now, three years later as we get ready to graduate.
In this article, I’m going to share with you how I did it. My tips may not work for everyone, but I can attest that they worked for me not only once when I moved to Cork, but twice, when I moved to Granada, Spain for an Erasmus program there! I hope these tips will continue to work for anyone else who needs them.
#1: Try Becoming Friends with the Other Students in Your Course
This is the most obvious suggestion, but it’s not always the easiest.
My tricks for making friends in your course include:
-Sit next to interesting people and try to chat to them during class. If your lecturers are stricter than mine and don’t allow talking in class, then
try getting to class early to chat with students or try taking your time packing up after class instead of just running out the door.
-Take advantage of any breaks between classes. Have a break for lunch? Ask another student where the best spot is to eat. Get a 15-minute break in a long lab? Ask your lab partner if they want to get a cup of tea together (Irish people rarely turn down a cup of tea).
-Meet with other students outside the classroom. Notice a cool pub or coffee shop in town? Ask another student to go with you sometime to try it out, you could even suggest studying together.
#2: Join At Least One Society or Club
This one is big. This one has helped me find some of my closest friends.
My tricks include:
-Join the International Student Society (especially at MTU). Go to their meetings, go to their pub meet ups, go on their day trips to the Cliffs of Moher or weekend trips to Galway. Just get involved and chat to new people. You’ll meet loads of people who are in similar situations to you (i.e. living in a foreign country with few friends). And as a bonus, you can always go visit them in their home country later!
-Join a sport team or club if you’re into that! I joined the Gaelic Football Team at MTU, despite not ever playing before. It’s a great way to exercise, pass the time and make new friends!
-Go to the Society and Club Fair hosted by your school and sign up for anything that interests you!
#3: Try Becoming Friends with Your Housemates
If you can become friends with your housemates, most of your days will be filled with joy.
My tricks include:
-Try eating dinner together once a week or once every so often. You could cook together or for one another too if you’d like. Eating dinner together is a great bonding experience and allows you to chat and get to know each other.
-Host some other friends at your house and invite your housemates. Usually, pre-drink events like this are low pressure and a nice way for you to hangout with your housemates. Or if you don’t drink, invite some friends over for dinner or to watch a movie.
And there you have it. Those are all my tips and tricks for making new friends in a foreign country. It is possible! So go make some new friends!
Sandra is studying Visual Communications at Munster Technological University (Cork).