Studying abroad can bring a lot of self-reflection to your daily routine. Putting yourself out there as a singular human being makes you so much more vulnerable when compared to traveling as a pair or group. I would like to describe myself as an ambivert. An ambivert is someone who is a little bit in between extrovert and introvert. I’m generally alright with being alone, but if I’m alone for more than maybe two or three days I begin to crave social interaction. I genuinely enjoy being around people and believe I have a lot to learn from new people I meet every day. On the other hand, when constantly stimulated with social interaction for long periods, I can become reclusive and try to hide away to be with myself for a while. Now whether you’re an extrovert, ambivert, or introvert, the likelihood that you’re going to want to find a friend on your study abroad is pretty high. Not just any friend as well. Someone who you can truly connect with, and who enjoys doing similar things that you do. You know, an adventure buddy.
The thing is finding that person who you really jive with is not always something that happens right away. It can take a lot of trial and error to find someone who really gets you and to be honest, it may not happen in the time that you are studying abroad. It’s here where being comfortable with being yourself and knowing who you are or knowing how to just go off and be happy doing your own thing (in the safest manner possible) becomes extremely essential. If you know this is not who you are you are and you’re looking for one (or a few) bff’s for your trip I think there are a few main scenarios of how it could go (assuming you are studying abroad without someone you know already). You could hit the jackpot and be somehow placed with your soulfriendmate in whatever housing situation you end up in. You live together and BAM true friend love. Now I’m no expert, but I would say the likelihood of this happening is going to be pretty low. Hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to get close to your flatmates and be good friends (as I have), but the likelihood that you find your ride or die bff may be less likely.
The next main situation could be that you meet your friends in a class. Now this is a little more likely because you both chose to take that class for one reason or another so this means you may have a little more in common than someone you’ve been randomly placed with but depending on the size of the class, the subject, and the amount of social interaction required as part of the curriculum, this can vary. Coming from a small school with a student population of only about 3,500 people, it was a lot easier to get to know my classmates as they were in a lot of my classes, I would see them often, and the small class size allowed for a more personal environment. The University of Waikato has a student population of about 12,600 people. It’s still a small school with relatively small class sizes but I can definitely feel the difference. I’ve been able to meet some really cool people through my classes, although conversations with most of the people I meet in class are circled around lectures, and limited to slightly before and a little after the class. Nonetheless, classes can really be a great way to meet people and I have had some really fun experiences going out to lunch with some class members.
Now the third situation is the one I believe holds most promise. Find a group. School is a great place for groups. Especially for international students. Chances are your school has a program to get students out to different places, and a lot of these types of programs are geared to international students. So if you’re looking to find people to go adventuring this is where it’s at. Having a bunch of other students who are eager to get out and explore the new area is a great thing. We have a two-week recess where we’re going to travel the South Island. All of the girls who I am going with I have met through the international student trips. Clubs are another really great way to join a group of similar interests. In the first week of school we had a day where all the clubs set up booths and you could go around signing up for as many clubs as you wanted and I definitely took advantage of that and signed up for about seven groups I was interested in, and I would recommend for anyone to do the same because you don’t actually have to commit to the groups most of the time, or you can at least get a chance to feel the group out before you commit.
As for me, I haven’t found one single person who is my ride or die, but I do float around a few really close-knit groups, and I honestly love it. Having the versatility to hang out with lots of different types of people keeps life exciting. Having a large group of friends is really good because you have a large range of people to ask to go do things in case some are busy. The best part about it for me is that these people are from everywhere around the world so I feel like I am learning so much about what life is like in other places
Anyways, most of the past week has been relentlessly studying for this test I just finished today (hence the late post). I did do an amazing hike the past weekend with a bunch of other international students though. I did this through my school’s international student adventure program that I spoke about earlier too! It was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I don’t know if I can adequately emphasize how STUNNING this hike was. Beautiful mineral lakes, rolling hills, large mountains, lush forest, streams, craters from the active volcano, sulfur vents, beautiful vista’s all the way, this hike pretty much had it all. I woke up at 4 am to be at the bus by 4:30 am. Had a 4-hour drive with a little pit stop at Mc Donalds to grab a quick breakfast and we were at the start of the trail-head a little past 9 am. The entire hike took almost exactly eight hours and by the end of it I was utterly exhausted, yet felt oddly energetic at the same time because of how happy I was to be in my natural element.