How to make friends while studying abroad

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Prodigy Finance - May, 01 2024

5 min read

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At Prodigy Finance, we're committed to helping international talent to achieve their education dreams. We offer international student loans to qualified individuals attending top master's programmes in the US.

While there are certainly challenges to making new friends whilst studying abroad, the opportunities for personal growth, cultural exchange, and an enriched study abroad experience makes the effort worthwhile.
Social connections play a pivotal role in creating a supportive and inclusive environment, enhancing the overall quality of your time abroad.

Preparing for social interaction

Cultural awareness

Understanding the cultural norms and social etiquette of the foreign country is crucial whilst you’re studying there. It helps to build relationships, integrate with the locals in a positive manner and smooths your way as you navigate daily interactions.

Language skills

Language proficiency plays a crucial role in making friends, especially in a multicultural environment. It enhances your overall experience whilst studying abroad, making it easier to connect with locals, form friendships, and fully engage in the cultural and social aspects of the host country.
Improving your language skills shows a respect for the culture of the country in which you are studying, and shows that you want to genuinely connect on a deeper level with local people. It's an investment that not only helps you communicate but also contributes to a more enriching and inclusive international experience whilst studying.

Tips for improving your language skills:

  • Language classes: enrol in language classes, either at the university or through local language schools. Formal instruction can provide a structured learning environment.
  • Language exchange: engage in language exchange programmes where you can practise the local language with native speakers, in exchange for helping them with your native language.
  • Immersive experiences: get involved in the local culture by attending events, joining clubs, and participating in activities where you can interact with native speakers and practise the language regularly.
  • Language Apps and online resources: use language learning apps and online resources that offer interactive lessons, vocabulary building, and pronunciation practice to improve your language skills.
  • Utilise university resources: take advantage of language resources offered by your university, such as language labs, conversation clubs, or tutoring services.

Getting involved on campus

Joining clubs and societies

Getting involved in clubs, societies and sports that interest you is essential to enjoy a well-balanced, and enriching university experience. It not only contributes to personal and skill development but also fosters a strong sense of community and connection within the university environment. It also introduces you to students who have similar interests to you, helping you connect and make new friends.

Attending university events

Attending orientation events, workshops, and social gatherings organised by the university who attend is vital as these activities provide a holistic introduction to the academic, social, and cultural aspects of university life, helping start off the academic year in a positive way.

Exploring beyond the campus

Community engagement

It’s a good idea to volunteer for community events and cultural festival opportunities as it can be a rewarding way to connect with the community, immerse yourself in new experiences and meet new people. It’s all about exploring diverse experiences, staying informed, and actively seeking out opportunities to connect with and contribute to your community.

Part-time work or internships

Part-time jobs or internships offer a wealth of opportunities where you get to meet people, collaborate on common goals, and form meaningful friendships. The shared experiences and interactions within a professional setting provide a solid foundation for building connections that often extends well beyond the workplace.

Embracing digital platforms

Social media and online forums

Connecting with fellow international students and locals is crucial for a fulfilling study abroad experience. Consider joining fellow student groups and university-specific social media groups on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as a way to connect, share experiences and stay informed about events and activities.

It’s worth exploring online forums aimed at international students too, as these offer a supportive space to ask questions, seek advice and connect with students who share similar experiences.

Meetup Apps like Meetup or Eventbrite list local events and gatherings too, offering more opportunities to socialise with locals and international students alike. Remember to always prioritise your safety when meeting new people.

Language exchange and meetups

Utilise language exchange apps like Tandem or HelloTalk to connect with locals as it’s another way to learn about the foreign culture and meet new people.

Fostering meaningful connections and networks

Being open to diverse cultures and perspectives is crucial to form deeper connections, build lasting friendships and grow your personal network. It exposes you to various cultures, traditions, and backgrounds, helping create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected for their unique identities. It also broadens your own worldview, contributing to a more meaningful studying abroad experience.

Effective communication is the foundation of strong connections. By building a diverse network of friends around the world, it provides opportunities for collaboration, learning, and personal and professional growth.

Overcoming challenges

Dealing with homesickness

Experiencing homesickness is a common challenge when studying abroad, but it can also serve as a powerful motivator for encouraging you to make new friends and build a support network. By actively seeking to meet new people, you not only cope with homesickness but also create a fulfilling and enriching experience during your time abroad.

Navigating cultural differences

Different cultures have varying norms and values. Understanding and respecting these differences demonstrates cultural sensitivity, essential for connecting with locals on a deeper level. It helps you to understand the nuances of communication, humour, and social expectations, and makes building meaningful friendships easier.
Cultural intelligence, the ability to function effectively in diverse cultural settings, is a valuable skill and helps you adapt more easily to new environments, work collaboratively in diverse teams, and navigate global challenges with greater success.


Making friends while studying abroad is important to ensure you make the most of what has the potential to be a rich and fulfilling international experience. The effort you invest in building friendships while studying abroad not only enhances your current experience but also helps build your global network of contacts who can have lasting personal and professional impacts. And it’ll make your journey abroad that much more enjoyable.

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