Starting a new phase in your life can be daunting! There is a new place, environment, and in some cases even a new country to deal with. Very exciting, but also a little intimidating, and as an international student you may be feeling overwhelmed. One of the best ways to face these challenges is with a friend by your side. But if you are starting at a university overseas, you might now know anyone to start off with. So how can you make friends at University in the USA? You can position yourself to make friends in a number of ways. You can do this by being open to new experiences, attending new events, and by starting up a conversation with a passer-by. Here are a few tips to get started:
Participate in Orientation Week Events
Orientation weeks are exactly what the names state: orientation. This process will be thoroughly planned by the institution. It will usually consist of activities, group trips, scavenger hunts, dinners, and socials to help fellow students get to know one another.
For international students, there will be some kind of pre-orientation meeting, where they will inform you more about the country as well as showing helpful places in the area and where to find the best food. An important thing to keep in mind concerning pre-orientation weeks is to not flock solely with the international students. Getting to know the locals and spending time with them will greatly enhance your international experience.
Use Your Culture to Your Advantage
Whether attending a local or international institution, always stay true to who you are. There will always be students with the same interests and personality type as you. Local students will be interested in your country and culture; use this as an advantage to start a conversation or share a story from back home. Small talk is key here! Ask the age-old questions: “Where are you from?” and “Where did you grow up?”
Go To Campus Events
Stay On Top Of Social Media
Most institutions or agencies will have a media group on either WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook or another social media app where you can stay connected. These platforms will most probably provide you the first contact with students also starting the new phase, who are asking questions and finding their feet. Be interactive and be informed. Read all the messages on the group chats, you might find an awesome event or see an urgent notification.
Do Your Research Before You Go
It is impossible to predict what type of people you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have; however, knowing just a little about the things people talk about can prepare you for any introduction. Know the common interests of the country and the people. Getting into a conversation about sport already knowing the difference between a linebacker and quarterback might just save you from awkwardly fading into the background. Any fun conversations you have can help you make friends at University once you’re in the USA!
Dorms are the mecca of freshmen – new students getting settled into their 4-year home. Instead of spending time alone in your room, find the common room! You can challenge your peers to a round of table tennis, FIFA, or a game like Bananagrams. Staying busy while talking can help to break awkward silences.
Join a Club
Not a cult or party club – a campus club where people with the same interests meet. It might be a book club, sci-fi club, pre-professional group, or food club. These clubs help to link you with people in the same field of interest and ignites conversation on a topic you are comfortable with.
A roommate might end up being your best man or bridesmaid, the one friend that knows your secrets and will still help you get home safely after a late night of studying. They might also be the reason you want to study late, anything but being in the same room. Either end of the spectrum is perfectly fine. Freshmen staying with the same roommate after their first year is a rare occurrence, so don’t feel pressure to make it fit!
Be Nice and Be Yourself
Being nice and showing you care for someone is the fundamental base on which all friendships and relationships are built. Whether it’s cracking a joke on an off day or turning down the volume, the symbol of caring will be appreciated by all.
College is full of new experiences as well as characters that will leave you scratching your head. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the experience. Greet a stranger, sign up for a club, or wink at the person who has caught your eye. College can be much easier once you start to make friends at University. Remember, even the most successful senior was a freshman once!
Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!