THE strategy that you may adopt if you want to make friends abroad


For many people, an internship abroad is the best way to experience a different culture and learn more about another country. When interning abroad, and in particular in the US, you might start your experience solo. Although enjoying your own presence is very important, you may also want to meet new people, make new friends, and share this experience with others.

And you would be right to do so because there are many advantages of having friends while travelling abroad. For instance:

  • It can allow you to be more immersed in the local culture. If you want to know the country, there is nothing better than having local friends who can show you the best spots, who can make you discover the coolest events, and who can help you learn all the typical language expressions of the country/region.
  • It minimizes loneliness and homesickness. Of course, at some point during your experience, especially at the beginning, you might be a little lonely, and you might miss your friends and family from your home country. However, always being busy with something, and always enjoying new activities with some new friends in the US is more likely to keep these blues to a minimum. 
  • And they might offer you lifelong friendships. Friendships made overseas tend to become lifetime relationships. This is a unique occasion to get to know people from different countries and completely different cultures. And that creates really special bonds. 

Therefore, there are things you can try to do during your travel program abroad to create your new crew. In this article, we prepared some top tips about how to make friends while travelling solo!

  1. Adopt the right attitude

First, to be able to socialize, you need to adopt a proactive and open-minded attitude. Sure, making friends is not an easy thing when you travel solo, and that is why it requires some bravery. Even if you are an introvert, you will need to get out of your comfort zone and be brave. Nevertheless, don’t become someone you don’t wish to be for the sake of friendships. The most important thing is that you remember who you are and try new things while staying genuine to who you are and to your values. 

2. Live with flatmates 

A nice way to meet people and perhaps make new friends abroad is to live with some of them. Some people lived in a flat with 3, 4, 5 or more flatmates and testified to having a very good experience. Sure, there are some drawbacks to sharing accommodation with others, but you might also come across students or recent graduates like you who will become your friends. You are more likely to spend time together, hang out outside the house, talk and discover some common hobbies. They also may offer you to meet their friends, etc. And, the more people there are in the flat, the more likely you are to appreciate some of them. However, living with flatmates is not always simple, so you might also want to read this article: « Tips for living with flatmates »

3. Spend less time in your room 

Of course, you need to spend as little time as possible in your bedroom. Go out and visit places – on your own at first: you’ll see, people will happen to come to talk to you. Then say « yes » if people offer you to hang out with them. Have fun outside. Because, obviously, you won’t meet people and make friends abroad if you stay alone in your room. The more social activities you attend the more people you will meet. 

4. Join ex-pat groups for your country on Facebook 

If you find other ex-pats in your area, you will be able to make friends with them quite easily because you are in the same situation. There are thousands of ex-pat Facebook groups that help connect people who are living abroad. Some groups are for ex-pats from a certain country living in another, while others are open to any ex-pats living in a particular area.

5. Sing up for a sports club or join a gym 

If you sign up for a sports club, you will quickly feel the camaraderie in the air. Sports gather people around a common interest and a common goal. And it is common for teams to end every game with a meal or drink together at the local bar.

Similar to sports clubs, gyms can be a good way to meet people. The hard part is always how to introduce yourself. Maybe you can start by asking for some advice. 

6. Get a local job or volunteer 

If you have a job (volunteering or not) while interning abroad, you might be able to make friends with your coworkers or with your clientele.

However, finding a job abroad is a tricky task, because you usually need some kind of resident or work visa to legally work in the country. Anyway, some examples of jobs may be as a bartender. NGOs are also good options if you want to help out the local community. In certain countries, you can legally join a volunteer program without a work visa.

7. Hang out with your co-workers, from your internship this time 

Not all of your co-workers will become your best friends but I guarantee that some of them might. Outside the workplace, you may want to grab a coffee, have a drink, etc. to get to know each other better. 

8. Follow online communities for students

There are more and more international societies that organize events only for students to meet. Try to get information about this kind of stuff around you, follow them on Instagram, and don’t be afraid to attend events on your own, as there will be many people and you will be able to meet and make friendships very quickly.

9. Download apps to find friends abroad 

Some apps are created to allow people to meet. However, you should be cautious about meeting people in person who you’ve only met online. However, social events organized by official school Facebook groups and pages are generally safe bets.

You can also try in which you can find thousands of established groups for specific interests. There are groups for language exchanges, and more specific groups for those interested in hobbies such as photography, painting, sightseeing, wine, dance – everything!

10. Join local clubs / Take a hobby class 

In the same way as the sports club, you can actually join any type of club or take a hobby class. It can be via, but you can also find some local clubs. If you are interested in starting a new hobby, learning new skills, etc., hobby classes are a great way of making friends, because they bring people with the same specific passion/interest together.

11.  Host an event

If you have already made a few friends and feel like making, even more, you can host an event. Tell your friends to bring their friends. Then invite everyone for a party in your apartment, or to see a movie or picnic.

11.  Follow up with people you like 

If you have a great time meeting up with someone, that’s amazing! But keep in mind that friendships need nurturement, so let them know what a fun time you had and go ahead and plan something again. 

That’s pretty much it! 

If you try a couple of things that are present in this article, you might be able to develop your new circle of friends abroad. However, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Friendship is not always something that comes to you instantaneously. If you struggle a little, just don’t give up. Be patient, keep an open mind, and keep making a genuine effort. I can assure you that you will make friends abroad very quickly like this. 

If this topic interests you, check out our latest post, ‘TOP 10 Qualities of an Effective Intern in the US’, or the section of our blog dedicated to Inspiration.

Clara Delozière
Clara Delozière

MiM Specialisation in Communication and Media - ESCP Business School

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