How to Make Friends When Studying Abroad

Updated on 09 July, 2023

How to Make Friends When Studying Abroad


When you go to study abroad and stand on unfamiliar ground, surrounded by a symphony of foreign sights and sounds, you realize you are a world away from everything you have ever known. Local customs, traditions, and even the simplest tasks feel unfamiliar.

Even the most outgoing person can feel a little lost in a new country with unfamiliar faces. Did you know that according to research (by the Dutch National Student Association (ISO), the Dutch Student Union (LSVb), and the Erasmus Student Network in the Netherlands), 45 percent of international students (participating in the survey) said they felt lonely? This state is similar for international students at all study abroad destinations.        
This article will help you tackle the unfamiliarity faced abroad with important tips on how to make friends while studying abroad.

Tips to Make Friends While Studying Abroad

Tip #1: Overcome your shyness:

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Making friends abroad can be an incredible adventure, but it is natural to feel a bit intimidated. Don't let shyness hold you back from forming meaningful connections with people from different cultures. If you feel shy, push yourself to seize the opportunity, step out of your comfort zone, and broaden your social horizon. This is an essential part of unfolding a successful study abroad experience.

Tip #2: Attend orientation events:

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Most study abroad programs have orientation events, such as welcome dinners, campus tours, and cultural workshops. Attending orientation events is an integral part of any study abroad program. These events are typically designed to help new, especially international students, adapt to new environments and connect with other students in the program and the university. These events are a great opportunity to meet other international and local students and make new friends.

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Tip #3: Join a club or organization:

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Join a club or organization that aligns with your interests. It can be a sports team, language exchange group, or volunteer organization. It is the place where you can find people with similar interests as you.  It helps you connect with other students and build friendships as you work together in the same direction. It is a great way to expand your horizons and make the most of your college and learning experience.

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Tip #4: Attend social events:

Many universities host social events, such as parties, game nights, and movie screenings. Attend these events and make an effort to introduce yourself to other students. Approach new faces with a smile and introduce yourself confidently. You may even meet your new best friend, study partner, or future business partner. So do not hesitate to attend these events.

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Tip #5: Use social media: 

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Social media can be a great way to connect with other students. A research report published by Statista shows thatas of January 2023, almost 30.3 percent of users were aged between 25 and 34 years. The platform provides a window into their lives and offers an avenue to join their experience.  You can join Facebook groups or forums for international students at your university and start connecting with other students.

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Tip #6: Participate in language or student exchanges:

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Participating in language or student exchange programs can be a highly effective method for improving your language proficiency and connecting with local communities. Universities frequently provide language and student exchange programs, while online platforms can connect you with potential partners worldwide. These exchanges offer a unique opportunity to practice your language skills in a conversational setting, gain cultural insights, and make new friends.

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Tip #7: Take a class or workshop:

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Enrolling in a class or workshop presents an exceptional opportunity to broaden your social network and forge connections with individuals who share your passions and interests. Engaging in collaborative group activities and learning fosters a strong camaraderie, enabling friendships to blossom naturally. In a class or workshop setting, you can collaborate on projects, discuss techniques and ideas, and support each other's growth and progress. The friendships you make in these environments can be long-lasting and enriching, providing a network of like-minded individuals who can encourage and inspire you inside and outside the classroom.

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Tip #8: Work together:

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Collaborating with local students on group projects during your studies is an excellent opportunity to build cross-cultural relationships and enhance your learning experience. By working closely with local students, you can gain valuable insights into their perspectives, approaches, and ideas.  
Engaging in such activities expands your horizons and cultivates a profound understanding and appreciation for the richness of cultural diversity. In addition to academic benefits, working with local students can also provide opportunities for socializing and building friendships outside of the classroom. Through shared experiences and mutual support, you can create lasting connections that transcend borders and enrich your personal and professional growth.

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Tip #9: Embrace a diverse friend group:

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In university, it is crucial to understand that you should not limit yourself to just one or two close friends. Instead, be open to building relationships with people from all walks of life. By embracing a diverse friend group, you will gain new perspectives, learn about different cultures, and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world surrounding you. Additionally, having a wide range of friends means you will never be bored or lonely, as there is always someone new to hang out with and learn from.

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Tip #10: Prioritize socializing:

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Setting aside time to spend with friends and engage in social activities is essential for nurturing your mental and emotional well-being. Instead of spending all your free time cooped up in your room, plan a fun outing with your buddies. You could hit up a new restaurant, hike, or even grab a coffee together. You can create lasting memories and strengthen those important relationships by prioritizing your friendships and spending quality time with those you care about.

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Tip #11: Be open and friendly:

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Being open and friendly is crucial in building friendships. By smiling, greeting people, and showing interest in their lives, you create an inviting atmosphere leading to meaningful conversations and connections. Remember, a simple "hello" can start a lifelong friendship.


As people say, "Friends are the family we choose”; they bring joy and support and make life extraordinary. Start meeting new people, and remember that friendships can bloom in unexpected ways and places. Embrace the opportunity of studying abroad and embark on a journey of making new friends