Moving to a new country is a scary thought, made even more frightening with the prospect of making a whole new set of friends from scratch.The first four weeks of being in a new country is prime ‘friend making time’. Everyone you meet is in the same boat, and everyone is super social – think freshers but on a more international level. Although it can seem daunting having to throw yourself into the deep end, there are a few things to consider to make the process that bit easier.
1) Speak to anyone, everywhere
This sounds like an odd one, but friendships really can spring up from the most random of places. Waiting in a line at the bar, seeing someone looking as lost as you on campus or just hearing them speak the same language and approaching them are just some of the ways that friendships are born abroad.
I made one of my best friends in Barcelona after speaking to her in a queue at university, we bumped into each other in a club that evening, saw each other again the next day and a week later we were off on a skiing trip and the rest is history! I went to stay with her in Amsterdam in October (for free!!) and got an insiders tour of the city. So top tip: try and make as many international friends as possible – just think of all the potential (cheap) future holidays!
2) Don’t be afraid to make the first move
It can feel awkward and very uncomfortable to be the first to initiate conversation with a complete stranger, but trust me, 9/10 times the other person will be so grateful that you were the one brave enough to do it. Think of conversation starters that you can use in your opening line. Questions like ‘Do you know where the…. is?’ or asking ‘are you an exchange student too, where are you from?’ more often than not ignite a conversation. If it doesn’t go well, then really what’s the worst that can happen?
3) Go out and do things
Everyone feels homesickness at some point on their time abroad and that’s okay, but there’s nothing worse than sitting around and wallowing in it. As hard as it may be, force yourself to attend that Erasmus event, language tandem or even just go for drinks with your new flatmates – you need to try and be as social as possible, as the more people you meet the more chance you stand meeting people that you have an actual connection with.
4) Not everyone is going to be your best friend – and that’s okay too
You are going to meet so many new people whilst your away, and it’s okay to be picky with who you become friends with. Just because you meet someone on your first night, doesn’t mean that you’re obliged to carry on meeting with them if you don’t feel like there is the potential to form an actual friendship – invest your time and energy into meeting people that you feel have the potential to turn into a proper friendship.
So there we have it, a few tips that will hopefully ease the doubt surrounding the prospect of making a whole new set of friends – everyone is different and friendships form easily and naturally, so don’t try and force anything. Just go with the flow (as one of my best friends would say) and see where your year takes you!