7 simple ways to make friends abroad

Part of what makes interning abroad so daunting is that you’re thrusting yourself into the unknown in a city where you know virtually nobody. That being said, there are thousands of people just like you living in a new foreign city at any given moment. Making friends can happen quickly abroad – it’s just a matter of putting in the effort. Check out these 7 simple tips and learn how to make friends abroad.


1. Attend intern events

The Intern Group hosts many cultural events open to all of its interns on a regular basis. Through these events interns are able to meet other interns from all over the world, all while exploring a new city and culture. These unique friendships are a great way to establish connections with people from many different cultural backgrounds. The great thing about the friends you meet at these events is that there’s one major thing that’s drawing you together – your desire for international professional experiences in a particular city. You already have more in common than you think!


how to make friends abroad


2. Take a class

Attending some sort of regular class, whether it be yoga, a cooking class or a language lesson, is a great way to meet like-minded people. Through a shared challenge and activity you’ll be able to start conversations and find new and interesting people to grab a meal with or to go out and explore. If you don’t have a hobby, don’t worry! Pick up something new.


3. Go to an expat meet-up

Groups like InterNations have all sorts of meet-ups for expats and travelers to get to know each other. Usually, there are also expat or international spaces in each major city where there are regular hangouts to welcome newcomers to the city. You may not meet many locals at these meet-ups, but it’s a great way to boost your international network.


4. Get to know your neighbors

Be a friendly neighbor however possible and it just might pay off. Although each city and complex is different, if you reach out to neighbors and offer them a taste of a traditional dish from your home country, for example, they’ll likely be apt to take a taste and see what you’re all about.


5. Be friendly at your internship

Smile, be helpful, forthcoming and generally curious at your internship and it will pay off. Although many of your colleagues may find themselves too busy to be great friends, at your internship you’ll still have the opportunity to establish professional contacts. Try your luck and invite some colleagues to lunch. And if you get an invitation yourself, it‘s a good idea to say, “yes, please!”



6. Check online groups

Websites like Couchsurfing have features that let individuals who are new to a city find fellow travelers to meet up with and establish new connections. Take advantage of these groups whenever you can and don’t forget to meet any new connections in public places first.


7. Join in on a pick-up game

Sports are another great way of finding new friends, or at least some temporary teammates. Whatever sport it is, just go scope out local parks and bring your equipment. You never know what you might stumble upon. It might be a good idea to do a little Facebook research online to see where pick-up games are occurring in your destination city.


Now that you know how to make friends abroad, apply now to boost your career with an international internship!



1. by The Intern Group

2. by The Intern Group

3. courtesy of Instagram/knights.design


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

To learn how to apply to our internship programs, click here.


Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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