Even though I am a senior in college, I was extremely worried about making friends abroad. Due to the pandemic and required graduation credits, all of my close friends, who I was going to study away within Copenhagen, had decided to cancel their program admission. I was both sad and worried as I decide to continue my decision to study abroad in Copenhagen. Also, because I was planning to live in a homestay, I was worried that my housing status would further reduce my chances of finding friends.
But alas, I was completely wrong.
The funny thing is that no matter who you came with from school, whatever housing status you’re in, whichever courses you’re in; everyone is feeling the same thing in one way or another. So even on the very first day, I was either approaching random people to talk or being approached by random people for a simple conversation. Also, since my study abroad program has been doing this for years, they have already set up a network of other students who live nearby my homestay so that we can hang out and interact with each other. Because of my courses, my homestay network, and meeting people with who I was acquaintances back in my home institution, I’ve already solidified friendships with people who I really appreciate and could foresee continuing friendships with them after this semester ends.
My advice for making friends whether you’re abroad or anywhere else in the world:
1. Keep asking questions about the person: A mentor of mine told me that the best way to have someone keep talking and for a conversation to keep going is to ask the other person simple questions about themselves because talking about yourself is easy since you’re literally just talking about yourself! It can also make the other person (and yourself) feel more comfortable as you continue talking. Of course, there are more complexities to this like social cues and appropriate questions, but essentially the more you can talk to the person, the better it can get.
2. Find the common interest: I find that whenever I found that one common interest, I try to prolong the conversation so that we can be more comfortable talking and hopefully find more things to talk about later on (if there is a later on). This tip actually helped me find the friends that I have now in the duration of this program. One person randomly mentioned Marvel, and before we know it, we bought tickets to the new Marvel movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” So you never know, that one movie buddy can be a valuable friend to you.
3. Just go for it: I definitely have that feeling in my stomach when I think about approaching someone who I don’t know at all. But just remember that the worst-case scenario is that the conversation won’t go anywhere and THAT IS OKAY. Conversations can get awkward, just leave, shake off that feeling that it went bad, and MOVE ON. There’s no point to mope if a conversation doesn’t go well, there is always a next time. So, if you want to talk to someone, just go for it, you’ll never know if they can be a potential friend unless you try.
4. Be yourself: Sounds cliche, but truly a piece of advice that is much needed. There is no point in exhausting yourself as you try to be a different person around other people. If they don’t like the real you, they won’t be great friends. I found that a support system of friends is truly rewarding and comforting, especially as I navigate through this study abroad journey. So be you, there will always be at least one person who will stand by your side :)
I’ll leave it with these four simple (but sometimes difficult) tips. I swear I am an introvert (INFJ specifically), so socializing is hard for me too. But I found that friends can make or break an experience. For me, I need the support of friends, and if you need that as well, I encourage you to just try. You got this!