5 Ways to Make Friends While Studying Abroad
Enhance your international university experience by connecting with fellow students.
An important part of any student experience is meeting fellow students. This is especially true if you are studying abroad. Whether you're coming from abroad to study in Canada, or you're leaving Canada to study elsewhere, you've got to make friends!
"Connecting with other students helps with success," says Kristen Chappell, international student support coordinator at Mount Royal University (MRU).
"It allows students to create supportive friendships and community, find a social and academic network, develop a sense of belonging, practice language and so much more."
Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, but there are five easy steps you can take to start connecting with other students.
1. Go to orientation
Chappell encourages getting involved right at the start with New Student Orientation (NSO), an event designed to introduce you to the university community and answer any of your questions. At Mount Royal, NSO programming includes specific events to welcome new international students.
"As part of NSO, we offer a half-day workshop for new international students," Chappell says. "It's an opportunity to be introduced to the community, meet other students and make your first connections."
2. Visit an international support centre
Like many universities, Mount Royal has an International Student Support Centre (ISSC). Run by students and volunteers, the ISSC is a vibrant hub for people from all backgrounds to come together and connect through fun social and cultural activities.
"Spending time at the ISSC is the best way to meet interesting students from around the world," Chappell says. "It's a space to hang out, study, practice language and learn from each other."
The ISSC holds a number of events such as mix and mingles, games nights and sports nights. As well, there are longer-running programs including International Kitchen, Language Partners and Global Wellness Community.
3. Connect virtually
Even before you arrive on campus, you can begin connecting and making new friends by joining university social media groups. Sharing your experiences and supporting one another is a great way to bond.
"We encourage international students to join our Facebook groups right away so they can begin asking questions and interacting with other students and ISSC volunteers," Chappell says.
To learn more about what groups might be open to you, check the university's website for international student support services.
4. Join a club
Joining a student club is another way you can get involved and meet new people with similar interests.
At Mount Royal, the Students' Association has almost 80 clubs on campus, Chappell says.
Whether it's photography, debate, snowboarding, fundraising or (almost) anything in between, joining a club is the perfect way to connect with others. Clubs also put on a variety of events and fundraisers throughout the year that you can take part in.
5. Live on campus
Living on campus helps minimize the stress of moving and places you directly into the community. As a new student at Mount Royal, you are guaranteed a room in Residence so there's no guesswork. Your roommate could become your new best friend, or your neighbour could introduce you to an entirely new social group!
In Residence, you will be at the centre of campus life. You can attend events, join study groups, or play on an intramural sports team — all just minutes from your door.
Getting involved and doing what you enjoy will connect you with the right people and help make your experience a memorable one. Do not hesitate to use university resources, attend events, join clubs and take part in campus life. Support is there for you every step of the way.
Check out the clubs at MRU