Coming to the US can be an emotional roller coaster. It can be difficult to get outside your comfort zone and talk with your fellow students to make new friends. Your university will usually provide a number of resources to help you feel at home in the US, however, in addition to these resources you must also be proactive in making an effort to socialize. Here are eight suggestions on how to make the most of your time in America to build friendships that will last a lifetime:
1.) Use your University’s Multicultural or International Center
Most universities have a multicultural or international student center where you can hang out with you fellow international students and get to know them. Taking advantage of this resource will help you to forge friendships with your peers. The International Center will also allow you to be a part of numerous cultural events and share knowledge about your culture with students across campus.
2.) Join a Club
Step outside your comfort zone and join a club for something you’ve never done before! Every school offers a variety of clubs and student organizations to get involved with. Try something different like ultimate frisbee, running, film-making, astronomy or cooking. Who knows, you may discover a secret passion for something you’ve never tried!
3.) Attend Events
Attending a school sponsored event is a great way to meet new people. Throughout the semester student events such as mixers, dances, movie nights, game nights are fairly common at most schools. This will give you a chance to meet new people in a structured way.
4.) Take an Interest in American Culture
Coming to the US means experiencing a new culture and being a part of the melting pot of diversity that is America. Make an effort to learn about American movies, TV shows, sports, food and music. Americans are constantly talking about these things and it’ll be easier to make friends if you make an effort to relate!
5.) Talk with Classmates
While sitting in class waiting for the professor to start their lecture, talk with the people around you. Most students in your classes will be open to talking and making friends with the people around them to make the classroom environment more enjoyable.
6.) Start a Study Group
If you make friends with people around you in your class, start a study group! You are all in the same boat and if your class is tough it’s beneficial to study together to get a wider perspective on what you’re learning and to collaborate with your fellow peers.
7.) Understand Social Situational Cues
American’s are generally friendly but don’t look into things too much. Someone may something like “Yeah, text me whenever, let’s hang out!” but this does not mean to text or call them all of the time. It is important to understand that someone being nice to you doesn’t necessarily mean they would want to go on a date with you, so it’s important to not mistake friendship for romantic advances. This can be tricky so check out our Developing a Social Life in the USA section for further insight into situational cues.
8.) Don’t Ask Rude Questions
Never ask someone’s age, weight, how much money they make, their political stance or why they don’t have children. In some cultures these questions may seem normal and inoffensive, and to some people they are but as a whole it’s best to stray away from these topics when initially having a conversation with a potential new friend.
Making new friends is never easy but if you put in the effort, are polite and respectful, then you should have no problem making new friends in America. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself!