Making friends was something I was concerned about in the lead up to study abroad. Having moved to uni what seemed like five seconds ago, I thought I had a secure group of friends who I liked, and would be very hard to replace abroad. Of course, I kept in contact with my friends through social media and visits but turns out making friends in Amsterdam was far easier than I had expected.
One thing I would advise to any student going to Amsterdam would be to join the International Student Network (ISN), and the Buddy Scheme. It’s very much forced fun, but it’s a great way to meet people. Virtually my whole friendship group came through making one friend in my ISN group. So even if the events seem dull I would make the effort to attend, because chances are you’ll meet someone just as engaged as you are.
The ISN have limited places, so I would recommend signing up before you go. They also have a Facebook page. Even if you don’t go to the events I would recommend the FB page as this is where people post about going for drinks, days out etc. Or this turned out to be the case in my cohort.
As you may have gathered the ISN is mainly made up of international students. I went to Amsterdam, as I think many people did, with hopes of making many Dutch friends. This however was not the case. I made about a handful of Dutch friends who I actually met through the ISN and then through friends of friends. Unfortunately, Dutch people react to international students the same way UoM students do. They don’t really put themselves out to engage with students who won’t be around long. I’d suggest if you are set on making cool Dutch friends, then nightclubs and ISN is the best way. Speaking to people in your lessons doesn’t really work. I tried. Honest.
Next week one of my friends from Canada is coming to visit. Next month two of my Kiwi friends are moving to London. Despite not making Dutch BFFS with anyone called Gijs or Femke, I did make a whole group of close friends from all corners of the world. If I had one thing to say to myself at the beginning of the exchange, I would probably tell myself to not worry about making friends. There’s plenty of ways to make new friends.