Friend Making 101: The Very First Lesson

Sanny Yang
September 22, 2021
A Group of New Friends on the DiscoverIES Santa Caterina Market Tour

Hey, my name is _____. What’s your name?

What school do you go to? Where are you from?

How did you choose to study abroad here?

Do you live in a residence hall or an apartment?

Although I haven’t asked nor answered these questions much since freshman year of college, these have been key to making friends in the past two and a half weeks.

Leaving everything I know to study in a foreign country feels like a lot just in itself. But I got to make new friends, too? How am I going to manage?!

The first couple of days in Barcelona were overwhelming (surprise, surprise!). I thought I had forgotten how to make friends. How does one socialize again? It felt as though everyone else were finding their groups of friends much easier than I was. This may be true, or it may be false. What I do know for sure is that most everyone studying abroad are in the exact same shoes as I am. Like me, they are trying to navigate life in a new place and make new friends in the process. Soon enough, I had a student come up and ask, “Hey! What’s your name?” The rest of the questions would follow, and the conversation would flow from there. Then, another student, “My name is _____. What’s yours?” These students who graciously approached me, asked me my name, and sparked a conversation taught me a very important lesson from Friend Making 101. Oh, this is how I can start to make friends. It’s easier than I thought.

And have I mentioned how many opportunities I’ve had to ask someone else their name since I’ve been in Spain?

- At the airport

- Walking tour on arrival day

- Orientation

- Girona study trip

- Sant Josep de la Boqueria market tour

- Modernism tour

- All five of my classes

- Beach day with new friends and their friends that became my friends

- Santa Caterina market tour

*Spoiler alert: this list keeps going. I hope you’re good at memorizing names.

Of course, knowing the names is only the beginning, but it’s a foot in the door. You will continuously meet new people in the first few days, and you’ll have learned one too many names than your brain has room for. The good news here is that you begin to put names with faces. And these faces will become more and more familiar as you run into them on the bus, in the IES Abroad building lobby, in your classes, on your DiscoverIES trips, etc. Before you know it, you’ll be adding each other’s numbers in your contacts and chatting away on WhatsApp—planning a Saturday afternoon a la playa, recommending the other to visit Parc Güell, talking about the best churros con chocolate from Madrid, describing the maze you got lost in at Parc del Laberint d’Horta, and talking of upcoming weekend plans with la Fiesta de la Mercé.

So, if you don’t know where to begin, start with this:

Hey, what’s your name?

Simple, yet extremely effective.

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Sanny Yang

<p>Hi, my name is Sanny Yang. I am a senior at Hope College (Holland, MI) studying Political Science and Global Studies. I was born in South Korea but mostly grew up in Lilongwe, Malawi. I am excited to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and to share this journey with you!</p>

Home University:
Hope College
Lilongwe, Malawi
Global Studies
Political Science
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