7 Habits of International Students Who Make Tonnes of Friends
When you’re in a brand new country, you need to call on all your skills in order to make as many new friends as possible. Whilst there are so many people to meet in the UK, the sheer scale of some of the bigger cities can mean it’s hard to make meaningful connections. This also means, of course, that there are tonnes of great people out there for you to meet! And chances are, whatever crazy niche activity you’re passionate about, someone else in the UK will share your passion.
To make your quest for community easier, here are the 7 habits of international students who make tonnes of friends while they’re studying in the United Kingdom.
They find people who share common interests.
People who share common interests are instantly united and always have something to talk about. Do you know about sites like Meetup.com? Meetup is an online network that can be searched for groups of people with similar interests who meet up face-to-face in their local areas. There are Meetup groups in every city across the United Kingdom and there’s a group for every type of person. You can find English language groups, sports teams, photography clubs, book clubs, walking groups… You name it, and they’ve got it. There are even Australians in London (or whichever city) groups, and groups specifically for women from international countries. You can even start your own group. Other places to look for people with similar interests are in your university’s clubs and societies lists or at your local council. Better yet, choose elective classes that speak to your interests.
They tend to the friendships they already have.
Friendships need nurturing and consistency to thrive. And acquaintances need encouragement in order to become friends. Remember that person you had a class with all last semester but now you never speak to them? Ask them how they’re going. Obviously, Facebook and other social media help with this, but apps like Foursquare and Highlight also offer fun new ways to keep up with people you haven’t seen in a while.
They know the Calendar.
Certain periods and activities are better times for making friends than others. Orientation week events, the very first week of classes (which many people skip), public holidays, school workshops or festivals are times when people are looking to connect with others, so keep track of what’s going on in your city or institution. In the UK, you can find events using The List. Time Out and The Londonist are great if you’re based in the capital. Also, check out your university’s semester calendar.
They expand on the networks they already have.
Many people fall into the trap of just hanging around with the people they feel safe with – but friends can introduce you to their friends and this can grow your network exponentially. If you have to, host a party yourself and tell everyone to invite a plus one (or more). If you can’t have a house party there are certain activities that provide a great excuse to ask friends to bring friends such as:
- trivia nights;
- team sports;
- pub crawls;
- study groups.
Never underestimate the local pub! These are easy places to show up with or get to know acquaintances. Another key element to expanding on your current network is introducing people you know to one other. Making introductions is a kind thing to do, and people won’t forget that you were nice enough to help them make a connection. They’re more likely to do the same for you.
They make time.
It’s easy to let school, work, and daily stresses take up all your time. But you have to deliberately carve out time for your social life and make it a priority. Even if it’s just 1 hour a day that you promise yourself to message with a few friends or go for coffee, make meeting people and tending to friendships a part of your daily routine. It’s just as important as everything else.
They’re honest about their desire to make friends.
Have you ever tried to hide the fact that you wish you had more friends? We’re naturally afraid to admit this, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re an international student in a new country so it won’t sound strange if you tell people, ‘I’m trying to get out more and meet new people.’ People will remember that you said that the next time they’re planning a party.
They are useful.
Think about it, how many friends have you made because you had to borrow a pen from someone? Or a phone charger? Or because someone offered you some gum? Obviously, friendships are about more than being useful – but having something to give (no matter how small) is a great reason to connect and talk with someone. Being a fellow international student can make you super appealing to other international students wanting to improve their English as well. Be the person who can give advice, learn where places are on campus, and always carry a spare pen!
Hopefully these ideas will get you started on the path to new and wonderful friendships for life. Coming to a whole new country certainly can be daunting, but you definitely aren’t the only one facing that challenge. Thousands of international students arrive in the UK each year, and so as well as making local friends, you can always find someone else in the same boat as you. Take advantage of the multicultural, international quality of the United Kingdom and make amazing friends from all over the world!