How to make friends at university while studying abroad?

27 November 2018
Students from Durham University International Study Centre getting to know each other in a coffee shop

Making friends at university can seem daunting, but with plenty of opportunities for meeting new people, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

As an international student at the International Study Centre, you will find that you will be in a similar environment to being at university.

Studying abroad before progressing to university, means you will be able to ease into university life. You will typically be on a smaller campus, or dedicated study area, surrounded by fellow international students.

During the first few weeks, everyone is in the same situation and is looking to make new friends. If you’re feeling nervous, remember that others will be feeling the same.

Say hello

If you live with other students, whether that’s in student or private accommodation, say hello and keep your door open during the first week. This is a great way to make friends as well as show that you are eager to socialise.

If you see any of your new flatmates moving in, offer to help them out, make them a tea or just introduce yourself. And if your accommodation has a common room, make an effort to use it. It’s a great setting to hang out and get to know people.

On the off chance you still haven’t met all of your possible flatmates within the first week or so, be brave and try knocking on their doors, just to introduce yourself - chances are they haven’t been ignoring you and have just been busy unpacking and settling in.

If you’re living on your own, there are often plenty of events to help you to get to know new people. Be brave, go to as many social events as you can and just say hello to new people.

Get to know people on your course

You won’t want to miss any of your lectures during the first few weeks. This is the perfect time to get to know your course mates. You will meet your tutors and be able to introduce yourself to fellow classmates.

Talk to students in your classes. You will already have something in common, since you’re on the same course, so be forward and ask questions such as what they studied before and what they are looking forward to on the course.

You’ll also make friends that can help you out with group work or any questions about the course you may have.

Typically, the friends you make at the International Study Centre will also go on to study at the same university as you. So you’ll progress onto your degree knowing you have friends around the campus.

Cook your best dish

Studying abroad as an international student means you’ll be making friends with people from around the world. You’ll all have different backgrounds and different cultures, which means you’ll also have different foods that you love.

As a great way to get to know more about one another, organise a night, or multiple nights, where you can showcase your favourite food from your home country.

Induction week and student events

Most universities and our Durham University International Study Centre, host induction weeks to help you settle in, get to know your new home and meet other students.

These induction weeks offer a fantastic opportunity to socialise with other new students, all in the same situation as you.

From guided tours and walks to language café meetups and social events, it’s a great chance to help feel relaxed about your new home.

Get in touch before you start

Make sure to join your university’s Facebook Page once you have been accepted onto your course - you can keep up with the latest news and events.

You can typically join Facebook Groups for your university, where you can connect with other students, find out about orientation events and any tips you might need to help you pack and prepare. If you arrive early, you can even try meeting up before your course starts and attend induction week together.

Some universities also offer other ways to connect through social media. Durham University International Study Centre’s Facebook Page allows you to connect with other students through its #MyDurhamFuture hashtag for example. You can reach out to fellow students and see how they are preparing in the run up to starting their university journey.

Don’t worry

Don’t worry if you haven't found friends within the first few weeks. Building friendships takes time and you have got years to settle in and meet new people.

Just push yourself to take part in meetups, social events and to just say hello, and you will soon find you will have university friends for life.