Making friends when you’re studying abroad for just a semester can go one of two ways: either you create quick friendships because you think to yourself, you have very limited time here so might as well make the best out of it and get to know as many people as possible and have a blast with them. Or you think to yourself, one semester is too short of a time to make real, long-lasting friends, and that you need more time to create genuine bonds with people. In the latter case, it’s a struggle finding people to spend time with and make plans with, and so you feel alone in the program. If you’re feeling that way in your study abroad program or are worried about feeling that way, know that you’re not alone. Almost every single person goes through that thought process of whether or not they’ll make good friends in the program, others are afraid of being alone because of their introversion and still others actually don’t end up creating that many meaningful friendships. No matter which category you fall under, you need to know that you’re not alone in there.
I myself am an introvert and have struggled in so many social scenarios, whether they have been back home or here. I worry about whether my introversion will deter people from being my friends, whether my social battery will run out too quickly for me to make any friends, etc. I used to look at my friends and see how effortlessly they were interacting and making friends and I used to think how the heck they did it. But gradually I realized that for most people, that is just an outward appearance. Most of them do in fact struggle on the inside and are also on the same boat of worry and pressure. I agree, there are some people who are naturally good in social situations and their personality just works in their favor, but if you want my two cents, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be like those people if that’s not truly who you are. Because yes, you can force yourself to socialize and be present everywhere, and that may even get you many friends. But they won’t necessarily be the type of friends that you click with. Eventually, that period of pretense will wear off and you’ll have to remove your extroversion mask. What then?
Making friends is stressful, especially if you have to make them in a new place in a short amount of time, but when you act like yourself and don’t give in to pressures, you attract people who are also like you. I created meaningful friendships in my study abroad program and I am extremely grateful for that, and I have realized that it had a lot to do with the fact that I tried to own my personality, including my introversion, and that made me bond with people who understood that part of me. So whether or not you are struggling with this aspect or are worrying about it, I hope that your study abroad program is memorable, stress-free and that you end up with beautiful friendships, even if it is with just one or two people.
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<p>I am an international student from Kathmandu, a small city in Nepal, currently pursuing my Bachelor's degree at DePauw University in Indiana. I'm majoring in Neuroscience and have a keen interest in psychology. There are a few things that I enjoy doing in my free time, like singing, trying out new recipes, reading, etc. I have fostered a lot of cats back at home in Nepal so yes I'm a cat lady, but I absolutely love dogs as well. I'm mostly an introvert but if you come talk to me I promise I won't be awkward, I do enjoy having conversations with people and learning new perspectives.</p>