Going abroad to study for the first time can come with a mixed bag of emotions. The excitement of going to a foreign country can be tempered by feelings of sadness about leaving your family and friends behind.
There is also anxiety about how to integrate into a new society. For many students, the anxiety of making sure there is enough funds can mask all other worries.
All things being equal though, the best way of quickly settling down in a new study environment is linked to your ability to make new friends. Your social skills could be the single most important variable whether your experience abroad turns out good or bad.
Studies have shown that students who are able to make friends faster and easily tend to do better at school, both in and out of the classroom.
So here are some good pointers to help you make new friends and invariably help you integrate and settle down faster.
1. Look for interesting clubs/societies to join
All universities worth their salt have tons of societies catering to all tastes. There are sports clubs, cultural clubs, drama clubs, science clubs; and many others.
You don’t have to join all of them at once. Pick the ones that are of interest to you and register with them. Regularly attending meeting or events organized by your club is a good way to meet and make like-minded friends easily in your new University.
2. Don’t spend too much time in your room
As a new student, you might be tempted to stay holed up in your room because of the strange environment. Granted your room is your sanctuary, but never make it a habit of spending too much time there.
You can only make new friends by meeting new people. Obviously, you can’t meet new people if you stay in your room all the time; only leaving if you have something important to do like going for a lecture.
3. Take advantage of online social forums
Use the opportunities offered by several online social forums to hook up with new people in your school. With just a tap of a button on your smartphone, you can reach out to many new potential friends.
This is a great way to plug into the social dynamics of your new environment. With your social forums, you get to know what people are doing and how you can fit in.
So go ahead and join local Facebook pages and Twitter handles.
4. Have an open mind
It would be unfortunate if you have a closed mind; the sort of mind where prejudices are cast in stone. That kind of mind would not aid you one bit in making the most of your stay in the University.
Whatever your religious and cultural background, you need to be open-minded to easily make new friends. A university is a place of learning. Some of the best things you would learn would be outside the classroom.
But if you are not open-minded, you would miss that chance to learn from wonderful people you would surely come across. And of course, the chance to make important connections through friendship would be lost to you.
5. Stay in student halls
Perhaps, you have enough funds to rent an apartment for yourself; that is awesome. At least, financing your education is never likely to be a problem then.
As a new student though, your best option, if you want to make friends faster, is to live in student halls or dormitories. This is a fine way to meet other students and make new friends.
You can always leave after you first semester with your new friends safely in the bag.
6. Organize parties/ dinners/ get-togethers
If you are not a socially awkward or reserve person, organizing social events is a good way to meet new people and make friends.
This strategy is most suitable if you live in a rented apartment. This would compensate for the absence of the many students you would have met in a hall of residence.
These social events don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. With a few bucks to buy drinks and music from your mp3 player hooked up to a sound system, your guests can have a swell time.
7. Keep an open door
You should take that advice literary. Endeavor to always leave your door open. An open door makes it easy for people to visit because they know you are available.
People are more likely to pop in for a chat if your door is not shut. An open door gives people the feeling of being welcome to come in at any time.
8. Attend as many events as possible
Most universities organize several events for new students each year. These events are good opportunities to meet other new students.
The fact is, these are the places you would meet students yearning to make new friends just like you.
9. Dare to be courageous
The whole idea of meeting people and making new friends is to get you out of your comfort zone. You took the first most important step going to study abroad. Why stop there.
Do things you never thought you’d do back home. Don’t limit yourself and allow fear to hold your back. Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime.
Students are generally very sociable. You would be surprised how easy it is to make friends if you are courageous enough to do stuff that involves other students.
Sometimes, just raising a hand in greeting to a strange face on campus could be the beginning of a rewarding experience.