News and Events

How to Make Friends as an International Student

August 3, 2015

Life as an international student can often be difficult at times. Having to move away from your friends and family, finding yourself in the middle of a new culture and speaking a different language is never easy.

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It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone when it comes to this, as many other international students are feeling exactly the same.

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However, research does suggest that international students are more happier and healthier once they begin to make new friendships.

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By doing so, international students students usually experience less of a culture shock, less homesickness and become more adjusted to university life. Those international students who make solid friendships whilst at university are also more likely to recommend university life to their friends and family back home.

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So, during your first few days of university life here are a few ways you can help to ‘break the ice’ and become more settled in your new home.

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Make friends with your new housemates

\r\nEven students from the UK are likely to be feeling nervous within their new environment. Some may have travelled from the opposite side of the country to begin their university studies. As most local students are likely to be living in the same shared accommodation as you, it’s a great opportunity to make new friends.\r\n\r\nSuggest cooking a meal, going out for coffee or watching a film. These are all good ways you can help to ‘break the ice’.\r\n \r\n

Join International student groups

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Your university will be able to tell you what groups and organisations exist for international students. By joining a club which involves students from around the globe, it will be far easier for you to build up a rapport and create friendships as you’ll already have something in common with them.\r\n

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Pursue your hobbies & join social groups

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Similar to the groups that have been set up by your university specifically for international students, there will also be a Student’s Union at your university.

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The Student’s Union will have a variety of clubs and societies that you can join – from sports clubs, to debating societies, or faith societies – there is something for everything. Mixing with people who share the same interests is definitely a great way to start making friends.

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Be friendly and open minded

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Remember, international students are awesome! Being friendly, relaxed and open minded are often the best ways to make new friends with your fellow university students.

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Why not start a conversation with the person next to you before your next lecture begins? Or perhaps in the students union cafe as you wait for your morning coffee? If you’re stuck for conversation ideas, talk about sport, news, the local area and even the weather.

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Don’t talk to home too much

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Although this may seem a bit strange, especially if you’re ever feeling homesick, but talking to friends and family at home can often make this feeling worse. The quicker you integrate into your new surroundings, the sooner the homesickness will pass.

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Don’t make long phone calls home or spend too much time talking to your friends and family back at home on social media.

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Explore your new environment

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Taking the time to explore the local area with your new housemates or coursemates is a fantastic way to make you feel settled and make new friends.

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If you’re looking for something extra special, HOST is currently the UK’s leading non-profit organisation designed at linking international students with British families. You could stay for a day, a weekend and even the Christmas holidays. These are often great opportunities to see the country and experience British culture.

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In America there is a similar scheme called Homestay Hosting which allows international students currently studying in the USA to experience American life.

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When you first arrive arrive at your university you must remember that everyone is likely to be nervous and looking to make new friends. Having strong friendships and social circles at university can certainly help to improve your wellbeing and happiness, as well as reduce the levels of homesickness.

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