Making friends as an international student
With another round of the semester coming up, it’s that time of the year again to summon our best social-selves and get acquainted with our new classmates.
This is not my first rodeo but to many of you, it might take a little confidence boost and pep talk to navigate this new and big social scene. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’m here to tell you that it’s not going to be as bad as you think it’ll be.
As an international student, I understand how nerve-wracking it can feel to start from scratch and make new friends in this new and foreign city. I came here barely knowing anybody at all aside from my one classmate from collage – I definitely did not know anyone from law school but I was determined to make some friends.
While O’Week is a great place to start meeting new people, I personally don’t think it’s the right place to seek out long-term friendships. Although, hey, I’ve known some people who became good friends with the people they bumped into at O’Week so experiences are different for everybody. To me, making friends is easier in the classroom because you’ll be seeing them almost every week which gives you more opportunity to get to know each other better without the awkwardness of making plans to meet up, you know?
A good trick of mine is to arrive early and ask whoever’s there if we are in the right classroom. Once you’ve established a conversation, you can then start to introduce yourself and carry on with the convo. It just feels much more natural and relaxed that way, otherwise I’ll feel like I’m at a networking event.
A common struggle I’ve noticed among international students is making friends with the locals. I am no stranger to that. One major hindrance is the fact that local students already know each other from high school, so they tend to stick with their own friend group which I can’t really blame them because who wouldn’t want to bask in the comfort of familiarity?
And if you’re like me who finds it hard to break into an already established friend group, socialising with them might be a bit challenging but it’s not completely impossible. I’ve became friends with several South Australians over the years and they’re wonderful people.
Start by making small talk with those around you – the person next to you in class, your neighbour, a friend’s friend. It’s much less scary and overwhelming to talk to someone who is alone too because then you won’t have to fight for your life trying to get a word in.
You might feel a little bit lonely these first few weeks but that’s only because you’re new to the whole thing. I remember just how homesick and lonesome I felt in my first year of uni and I had to go through the whole covid shebang too! So don’t sweat it. I bet you’ll be making friends in no time!