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By on May 31st, 2017

How International Students Can Make Friends

International students have so much to look forward to about living and learning in a new country. Aside from the normal college experience, international students have all kinds of other good times ahead of them.

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One thing that can easily stand in their way, though, is a lack of friends. The truth is that friends will make or break the time international students spend abroad, so let’s look at what they can do meet people ASAP.

Don’t Rely on Other People Coming Up to You

In a perfect world, people would come up to international students, extend their hand and make introductions the moment they arrive on campus.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s going to work. People are busy with their own social lives, staying on top of their grades, going to work, and all kinds of other responsibilities.

If you wait for other people to introduce themselves, you may be waiting for a while, so make sure you’re proactive about making friends.

Know That Most People Are Really Nice

At the same time, we don’t want to give you the impression that people are cold and selfish here. It’s just that they’re busy and, a lot of times, don’t want to encroach on other people’s personal space.

If you’re proactive and open up, you’ll find that most people are very nice and happy to get to know you.

Join a Group

This is probably going to be the easiest ways to begin meeting people. You could join any number of different student organizations, including Greek groups. This will get you around lots of people in a non-classroom setting where socializing is expected.

Also, the leaders of the groups will have every motivation to come up to you and say hi and introduce you to others.

Play a Sport

Similar to joining a group, your school will probably have plenty of opportunities to play sports. Intramurals are a big part of campus life. While you get the same benefits of joining a group by signing up for a sport, there may also be one you really excel at compared to Americans.

The most common example is football (“soccer” here). You’ll have no problem making friends if you know how to play this sport well.

Use School Resources

Most schools will have resources for international students to help them settle in, but also to make sure they have the opportunity to meet people and create their own social circle.

While a lot of the events they put on will be aimed solely at other international students, you should still find that enough American students show up that you can make introductions and begin making friends.

Mix Up Your Friend Group

This brings us to another good tip: make sure you mix up your group of friends. At first, you might feel lucky to have any friends, even if they’re people from the exact same country as you.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting to know other international students. It can be really nice having someone who’s going through the same unique experience as you are.

At the same time, a big part of experiencing a new country is getting to know people from that country. They’ll also help you learn about the area and show you places your fellow international students most likely wouldn’t know were there.

The big takeaway here is that making friends won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen if you don’t make it a priority you proactively work toward. Even if you’re shy, joining a group or playing a sport will make it extremely easy to socialize with others if you put forth the effort.