Ask the intern: How to form your own international squad
“Hi Fiona, I’m about to start my international internship in London and I know absolutely no one in the UK, I’m a bit worried that I won’t be able to make any friends. Do you have any tips on how to make friends abroad?”– Adam
Hi Adam, thanks for writing in! Worrying about making friends is something I definitely experienced before I left for my international internship. I found myself on various occasions sat with another friend, who was also moving abroad, googling “how to make friends abroad”… with minimal success. Saying that, having arrived and settled in, I can tell you that it’s something you definitely do not need to worry about! I’ve learned much more from arriving and settling in than I ever did online so I will share my top tips for making friends abroad with you.
1. Start at home
The fastest and easiest way to begin to create your friendship circle is at home. Living with someone is the easiest way to become fast friends. One of the benefits of the internship programs with The Intern Group is that your accommodation is organized for you, so you are guaranteed to live with other like-minded people (who will all be just as keen to make friends as you). The scariest part of making friends with someone is always the first conversation, so I would suggest getting that out of the way as soon as possible and immediately going up and introducing yourself. Try to be as friendly and smiley as possible! You could even ask them if they wanted to go for a quick coffee. Chances are that they will be really excited to be asked.
2. Be friendly at your internship
Once you start your international internship you will be immediately introduced to a brand new group of people. Making a good first impression is vital, so make sure that again you introduce yourself in a friendly and smiley way. Depending on where you’re interning, the policy on general chit-chat in the office may be very different. Try and observe what everyone else seems to be doing and join in accordingly. Even if your colleagues don’t tend to chat at their desks, take advantage of lunch breaks to meet new people. If you get invited for lunch definitely say yes! If a few people are going out for lunch, ask if there’s any way you could tag along and make some great new connections.
3. Meet other interns on the program
Another great thing about The Intern Group is that they will organize trips and cultural excursions for you and the other interns on the program. This means that you are guaranteed to meet a big, fun group of people who are in exactly the same situation as you. It’s also likely that they will have the same worries or nerves about making friends! These events will be a great opportunity to meet new people and hopefully make firm friends with whom you can meet up regularly. Make sure that you exchange contact information, either a phone number, Facebook name or whatever’s easiest!
4. Join a club or team
Another great way to meet people with similar interests is through your hobbies. If you were part of a club or sports team at home, why not try and find the equivalent in your new city? If you’ve never been a member of any clubs or played any sports then now’s the time to give it a go! Being abroad is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Why not join a soccer team, film club, salsa class? Even if you end up being a rubbish footballer or having two left feet, it’s a great way to meet local people and will surely make for some funny stories to tell people back home!
5. Say “YES”
The biggest tip I can give you is to say yes. To anything you might be invited to. ‘Yes’ is the doorway to exciting experiences and meeting amazing new people. You never know what may happen, you may say yes to an evening out, a dinner at a new restaurant or even a quick coffee and meet a whole group of great friends. You can then meet their friends, and the friends of their friends, etc. Soon you’ll find yourself with more friends than you know what to do with.
6. Be proactive
Don’t be afraid to seem eager. When you’re in a new city, with a new job and a new life, being proactive is SO important. Although it can be nerve-wracking, the best way to make firm friends is to be eager. Invite them out to sightsee, go to a new restaurant or or even just send them a message on Facebook to see if they’re busy over the weekend. Chances are that they will want to do something and you will have a great time! You could even get a big group together and organize a weekend trip, if you’re feeling especially confident!
Deciding to do an international internship and move abroad can be a pretty nerve-wracking decision, but one of the best you will ever make. The amazing group of friends that you will make, from all over the world, is only one of the fantastic benefits. The best advice I can give you is to jump straight in at the deep end, be smiley and friendly to everyone and say yes to every opportunity. I’m sure that you will have one of the best experiences of your life.
I love hearing from you! Keep sending your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that you know how to make friends abroad, click here to find out more about our international internship programs and apply online.
Photo 1. By The Intern Group