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How to make friends as an international student

Date:14 September 2022
Author:Hylke
Making friends at the UG.
Making friends at the UG.

Moving to a completely new country to start university is very exciting! At the same time, leaving your friends and family behind, and building a new life here in Groningen can be difficult. Especially making friends can be challenging at first. Don’t worry though, you are not alone! There are lots of other internationals who are eager to meet new people, just like you. Here are some tips on how to make friends in Groningen!

Effort

This might sound cliché, but getting out of your comfort zone and making the effort to meet and talk to new people really is the key to success! Although it’s scary (or is that just me?), try to approach people. What works for me is complimenting people to spark a conversation (but make sure it’s genuine) and ask them questions; be curious and open. One of my closest friends I met during the KEI-week, we sat next to each other, started talking about our studies, exchanged phone numbers, and met up frequently after that week. 

The bottom line is, just try to start up conversations with your neighbours in classes and lectures, or during other occasions, and see where it goes. If you make the effort, you will definitely make some friends!

Organise a meet-up

Another way to make friends is to create a group chat with all the people in your class or study year, if you have not already joined or created a group chat. It’s a great way to get acquainted with all your classmates! You can easily send a personal message to someone you would like to get to know, but you can also organise a meet-up. Just ask if people are interested in grabbing a drink to get to know each other better and surely people would like to come. In my first year, I organised a meet-up with several girls from my programme. My room was a bit crammed with people, and we did nothing other than talking to each other while enjoying drinks and some snacks, but it was lots of fun! After that, there was always someone I knew who I could sit next to during lectures. 

Join a study association or sports club

Wanting to make friends outside of the classroom or get to know people who study something completely different than you? You can join a study association, sports club, or workshop! Most programmes have study associations connected to them who organise activities for their members, which are perfect opportunities to make new friends! Joining the board or a commission of a study association is also a great way to get to know a group of people better as you will have weekly meetings with them. Often, you will become close friends.

ACLO sports clubs and USVA courses are perfect for meeting people who share the same interests as you do. In my first year, I followed a creative writing course at the USVA whereafter I occasionally met up with the people also taking the course. I thought of joining one of the student volleyball clubs Donitas or Veracles as well, but I eventually decided on only joining the study association connected to my programme. Still, I highly recommend checking out the wide range of sports clubs Groningen has to offer, there might be one that sparks your interest and where you will meet some lifelong friends!

Go to events in Groningen

You can also make friends when going to interesting events in Groningen! There, you can start conversations with people who also went alone, for example. Or, you can invite someone you have met in your programme, study association, or sports club to come with you. Some upcoming events are:

  • The Sustainable Moments Festival from 16 September to 23 September 2022, where they organise events such as a clothes trade, a food market, and craft workshops for free. A great way to meet new people while simultaneously learning about sustainability!
  • A Movie Night screening The Big Lebowski on 20 September 2022 organised by the USVA. The doors open at 20:30 and entrance costs only €3 for UG students.
  • The Erasmus Student Network Groningen organises an excursion to Ameland from 23 September to 25 September 2022 for only €105! Get social while exploring one of the Netherlands’ beautiful islands!

Hopefully, these tips will help you make some lovely friends! Just approach people, ask questions and be yourself. If you do that, everything will be fine! Good luck!

Do you have any other tips on how to make friends as an international? Or do you want to share your story of how you met your closest friends? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Hylke
Hylke

Hiya! I’m Hylke, a Dutch MA English Literature student. People often ask me if I’m Frisian, but sadly I’m not; I just have a Frisian name. I love reading, writing, meeting with friends, and the colour yellow, so much so that I take pictures of every yellow wall I can find!

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