Where to Make Friends While Studying Abroad
When I went to London in January, I had no one from my home school joining me in the same program. I was worried about how I would make new friends in such a short amount of time while also adjusting to a new environment. Luckily, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and make some new friends that will surpass my time abroad.
Here is a list of places to possibly make some new friends during your time abroad:
Reach out to previous alumni before traveling or while you are here, ask your study abroad office if they could connect you with others who have done your program before. Since each place differs in location and university, my tips might not be as helpful compared to those who have done your program before. I was lucky enough to know people who had done my program before and asked them for tips on how they made friends when they were here.
School Societies + Events: Starting with a more obvious one, joining different Societies (clubs) on campus is a great way to meet people who have similar interests as you. I joined the African and Caribbean club on campus and was able to connect with people with a similar backgrounds. I also encourage going to the events hosted on campus as it is another opportunity to meet new people. I went to petting zoos, food trucks, and carnivals hosted on campus. Chances are the schools will also host events for study abroad students as well for you to meet others by playing games together, which was a great way to meet students from all over.
IFSA Events: IFSA throws many events monthly where people can connect with other IFSA students across different programs in the same city.
These were great as all these students were also eager to make friends, and it is easy to connect while watching a play, going on a food tour, or touring stadiums. These events are also a great way to explore London without paying so much money and getting to know other students in your area.
Surprisingly the Library: Now take this with a grain of salt, but at Queen Mary University, the first floor of the library is not where you go to study but to socialize. Since some people commute, they socialize in between classes at the library, and it is open 24/7. The library is set up so the higher you go up, the quieter it gets, so on this floor, you can talk to people and not feel like you have to be quiet. Although it might seem strange, this is where I made friends with students outside of the study abroad program and my classes.
No matter where you end up going, make sure you are open to making new friends and put yourself out there the first couple of weeks as you never know the connections you will make.
Tsion Mamo is a student at Scripps College and studied abroad with IFSA at the University of London in Spring 2022.