If you’re anything like me, one of your main goals of study abroad is to come back fluent in your host country’s language! Whether you’re just starting out or have been taking classes for years, making friends is one of the best ways to learn. Making new friends can always be a little intimidating but being immersed in a new culture and language makes the act feel insurmountable. Lucky for me and you there’s ways you can make it a little less scary!
- Ask your professors if they have kids your age. This might seem a little weird at first but if they have kids around your age, ask if some of your friends from your program can meet up with some of their kid’s friends. For me, one of my language instructors had a son about the same age and so he brought his guy friends and his girlfriend brought her gal friends. Immediately I hit it off with some of the gals and I still talk to them today even after the program was over.
- Find International Student Clubs This one might be a little harder to find at first but also can be less intimidating. These are groups specialized for students like you and me! I talked to some people who had been to my country beforehand and they suggested a couple groups so that’s probably your best strategy. The ones that I found had us conversing both with locals and international students from all around the world! Not only did I get to practice Spanish with other Argentines but I got to practice with people from Switzerland, France, etc which was of course really neat. The other bonus of these is they often plan activities and trips for you in the country which means it is great for your social calendar and often also allows you to get a discounted group rate!
Talking with people my own age made it not only less intimidating but actually really fun to practice my spanish. Additionally, my new friends served as my ambassadors to what people my age in the country do for fun! Don’t get me wrong, the museums your professors suggest are great as well but there’s just something about sitting in the midst of a park, sharing Mate, and listening to Argentine poetry that you just can’t beat. Aside from having some super sweet people to exchange life stories and cultures with, I now also have friends to help me keep up those precious language skills now that my program is over. So go, get out there and make some new life-long friends of your own!