Claire Muller – University Of Sydney, Australia
So, I wanted to talk to you guys today about how I dealt with making friends, whilst being an introvert studying abroad. Studying abroad can be an extremely stressful situation; you are going to another country and culture, where you know no one and you have to try to find a way to thrive whilst also focusing on studying at the same time and being an introvert (making socializing a task in itself). You know… stressful. Anyway, I’ve come up with some ways to help you in navigating through your study abroad experience.
- Everyone is in the same boat
As cliché as this might sound, it is actually true. Other exchange students are experiencing the same emotions and fears as you most likely are. Everyone is looking to make friends with others and are quite sociable & talkative, which makes the task of socializing much easier for an introvert. You might also surprise yourself by being quite talkative (Came as a shock to me).
- Make the first move
As terrifying as this may sound, making the first move can actually make you seem much more approachable and make others feel at ease. This was one thing I was completely petrified about, I’m not usually one to talk to people; I usually wait until they talk to me or we don’t talk at all (#introvert). However, I noticed pretty quickly that other people are also afraid to make the first move and that if someone doesn’t make the first move, you are sort of stuck in a very awkward situation. Therefore, by making the first move, you are more likely to get people talking and making friends much faster. With all these new things to do, you can easily make the first move and ask people to join you in doing these new experiences. If neither one of you ask to do something together, you are extremely likely to never see that person ever again during your study abroad experience. Therefore, if you like the person and wish to become their friend, I would highly suggest that you ask them to join you to do an activity or visit a place. For example, during my first-semester orientation, I was in a queue with some other exchange students waiting for a waffle. We had to wait for 1h30 to get a bloody waffle, but at least it gave us some time to get to know each other. Once we got the waffle, we talked some more. Before we decided to part ways, I decided to ask them to join me visit the Sky Tower Sydney, to which they agreed and we exchanged other numbers and Facebook profiles. It gave us another opportunity to get to know each other and become closer.
- Tutorials are your friend
I know this may sound like a joke, but I actually met quite a few of my friends through tutorials. Whenever you have to talk to others around you, it gives you the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to others and get to know them. It is also particularly helpful when it’s group work because you are forced to be around them, which gives you more time to befriend them (although only if they also take part in the work, otherwise it just sucks).
- Keep Yourself Busy
I would definitely recommend participating and planning loads of activities if you feel that you are the type to likely get homesick. For example, there is so much to do in Sydney that you wouldn’t have enough time to do everything (e.g. thrift shopping in Marrickville, surfing on Bondi, walking from Coogee to Bondi, bushwalking in the Blue Mountains, seeing Harry Potter in the Opera House for $110 [worth it but still bitter], bar-hopping in Newtown, etc.). Just ask someone to tag along and the rest will naturally fall into place.
Anyway, that’s most of the tips I have for you guys to help with making friends whilst being an introvert abroad. I hope they help you along the way during your study abroad experience. And remember, your experience doesn’t have to be perfect! Now here are a bunch of pictures from my time abroad of the things I did with some friends I made along the way. Enjoy!