Ask Anna – Fitting in Whilst Studying Abroad

By StudyLink

Ask Anna

“How Would People Behave Towards Me as an International Student?”

One concern many international students have before starting their studies is fitting in and making friends with other students. What is important to remember is that you are not alone and many other students will share the same concern. Like you, they have also moved away from home and will be experiencing the same thoughts and emotions. This will help you to relate to the other international students at your university and provide a common ground for conversation.

The simple truth is the more that you worry about fitting in whilst studying abroad, the more likely you are to have problems. If you’re confident and try to get to know people without worrying too much about the consequences, in our experience you’ll be treated just like any other student. This applies to anyone who’s willing to get out of the house and socialise a little. Basically, talk to people! You’re not going to make any friends by avoiding conversations.
One option that has helped lot of students – both domestic and international – to make friends is to join societies or clubs. In a university society you will all be in a similar situation but you’ll also share a common interest, whether it be a sport, dancing, or even Pokémon. In most universities there will be wide range of societies to choose from and visiting the Fresher’s Fair – sometimes known as Orientation Week – is a good way to check out what’s available and to start meeting people.
Many international students can feel excluded when they’re studying abroad due to their language ability – often they’ll be too shy to try talking to others simply because they don’t feel they know the language well enough to be conversational. This is a common worry – often it can be difficult to keep up a social conversation if you’re constantly wondering if you’re using the right words or tense whilst chatting. The more you talk, though, the more you’ll get used to the language. People will be patient with you as you wrestle for the right phrase – you just have to appreciate that it might take a little longer to start a good conversation. You will find that if you are willing to try talking in a new language, native speakers will be more than happy to help you out when you are stuck for a translation.
There will be lots of opportunities to talk to other students. Your living accommodation is a great example. If you can, try to get accommodation in a halls of residence or another form of shared accommodation. Getting to know your house mates will be a great opportunity to fit in and in general people will be very welcoming as long as you show that you’re at least trying to fit in. During your studies, the group work and projects you’ll work on in your course are other great ways to get to know people and make friends.
Going to university in another country can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to make new friends and fit in as long as you’re confident enough to try. People are more welcoming than you think – you just have to reach out first.

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