YOUR Guide to: make the most out of your study abroad experience by travelling, learning, and living
By now, the initial mayhem that is moving abroad may be slowly starting to wear off and you may find yourself wanting to establish a solid friendship group in your host city similar to that which you have back at home. Integrating yourself into another culture and people may be a bit daunting at first, so I’ve put together some essential tips for making friends abroad in the UK or Ireland:
1. Join a club or society:
- There are hundreds of clubs and societies at host uni’s in the UK and Ireland, and these are a great way to meet both local and international students. In the past, students have joined all sorts of societies and clubs, from Quidditch club, to major societies, sports clubs, to folk society, games society, and so on. Involving yourself in clubs/societies that locals alike are involved in is an amazing way to immerse yourself in the culture, and to develop lasting friendships with those in your club/society.
2. Go to as many events as you can:
- This is especially useful during orientation and welcome weeks, when the universities put on tons of events for both local and international students. Such events are a great way to meet students with similar interests, or to find a new interest with new friends.
3. Spend less time in your room, and hang out in your living room, common room, or cafes near by:
- I know it may seem obvious, but it’s really easy to let fear keep you holed up in your room during the essential first few weeks of uni when everyone is scrambling to make friends. This is the best time to go outside of your room and try to meet other people, whether it’s in your flat, common room, or elsewhere.
4. Keep in touch with other UCEAP students you meet at orientations:
- UCEAP students abroad are PERFECT travel buddies, we are all in the same boat! Create a joint Facebook page or group chat, and make sure you stay in touch and keep each other updated on your travel plans.
5. Introduce yourself to other students in your lectures and tutorials during the first couple weeks:
- It is very likely that a lot of students in your courses will be in the same boat, most students don’t like to say no to a potential new friend. Plus, making friends in your courses will not only provide you with potential study buddies, but it will also provide you with local students who may be able to help you with the different methods of teaching/assessment of UK and Irish institutions.
6. Lastly, don’t be afraid to go out on your own:
- One aspect of study abroad that students constantly report is that it forced them to become more independent. I know at first it can be quite daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easy and second-nature. If you feel like you want to go to activities or events the first few weeks to make friends, but you don’t have anyone to go with, don’t be afraid to go out alone! Odds are there are loads of other solo students who want to make friends just as badly as you do. Returning home as a more independent and self-reliant individual is a priceless attribute that study abroad develops in students.