But learning to break the ice and overcome shyness can be difficult. The key to making friends while abroad lies in uncovering opportunities for interaction, and then taking advantage of those opportunities as often as you can.
1. If you want to meet local people with similar interests, volunteer opportunities are a great option. Check your school or its community for opportunities, or look for local installations of international organizations.
2. Carrying a pack of cards offers an easy way to break the ice when you’re among strangers. Playing card games gives you something specific to concentrate on, which can help you feel more relaxed.
3. Most schools offers club, sporting events, and other activities that can help you branch out. By joining a club or other activity, you get to do something you enjoy while meeting people with similar interests.
4. Consider staying in a hostel. Hostels are a great option for meeting new people from all over the world. Most hostels are also great sources of information on local activities, and can clue you in on the social scene.
5. Stay with a host family, and get a firsthand taste of what it’s like to live in England as a native. By sharing meals and activities you’ll gain a unique perspective, as well as making new friends.
6. Invite other students or locals to join you as you explore the community and its historical and cultural opportunities. It’s more fun to explore when you have someone to share it with.
7. Attend seminars and orientations arranged by your school. Don’t write these off as “too boring.” Consider them for what they are – another outlet to get to know new people.
8. Organize an night on the town. Out and about, most people tend to relax and become more approachable, making it easier to break the ice and make friends.
9. Host a night in. Nothing says “let’s be friends” like some good food and drink. Consider a simple theme to help break the ice, like “slipper night,” or “favorite T-shirt night.”
10. Most importantly, make small talk. Spontaneous chatting, whether it’s in class, at the library, or at a coffee shop – is a great way to put others at ease and make the initial foray into friendship.
So relax, open up, and take a chance! The friendships you make while abroad may be some of the most important “souvenirs” you take home.