Study Level USA Alumni USA How to Make Friends

How to Make Friends

Caela Provost
Caela Provost
Caela blogged for i-studentglobal as a student at the University of Limerick in Ireland. After working as a teacher and writer, she's now the North American Representative for University College Cork in New York.

L. M. Montgomery’s character Anne Shirley, the protagonist of her Anne of Green Gables Series, says the following about friendships:

“Kindred Spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It is splendid to find out that there are so many of them in the world.”

It’s no mystery as to why I found myself reading the above quote again and again before I came to Ireland; I was nervous about the prospect of making new friends at a new university, and the idea that I had many more “Kindred Spirits” to discover once I arrived at the University of Limerick was a comforting one. It turns out that Anne was right, “Kindred Spirits” are not scarce, and I found many of mine during my first couple weeks of classes here at UL.

This being said, I know that repeating a simple quote over and over again to gain that extra boost of confidence doesn’t work for everyone. I also know that, no matter what, everyone gets nervous about making new friends (especially when trying to adapt to a new environment at the same time). So I figured that it would be helpful to all of you readers to make an informative, albeit a little humorous, list of my personal “dos and don’ts” of friend-making. Read on, and enjoy!

DO

Strike up conversations with new people.

DON’T

Interrupt conversations in order to join them.

Why I live by this rule:

Have any of you ever been in a really great conversation with your friends and had a random person barge into the conversation saying something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, that is so funny!” ~or~ “I know exactly what you mean!” ~or~ “That’s great, but do you want to hear something even better?” when they literally just walked up to the group five seconds before? If you have been in this situation, you know it’s ridiculously annoying. If you haven’t, just take my word for it. Whenever you want to break into a group having a conversation, politely walk over, listen for a few seconds, and when you find a natural break in the conversation, courteously ask them to excuse the interruption and introduce yourself. This way, you’re the “polite, nice new person” not the “incredibly annoying newbie”. See the difference? Also, as a rule, if you find yourself in a conversation with a topic that you know little about, don’t pretend to know everything. People would rather you ask them to explain something to you than have you pretend to know what they’re talking about. And, if you think about it, it’s a win, win for you, the new person, because you save yourself the embarrassment of looking dumb AND you learn something new. Way to be!

DO

Find people with common interests to your own.

DON’T

Latch on to people like a barnacle.

Why I live by this rule:

It’s important to find people that you can relate to and connect with, and often times you’ll find them in the most unexpected of places or when you’re just casually introducing yourself to everyone. However, if you are having trouble making friends, the absolute worst thing you can do it latch yourself on to a group of people that you share no connection with just because you are lonely or discouraged. Don’t fret! You’ll find friends that are right for you, and if you’re struggling, joining a club, society or group always helps!

DO

Party like a rock star!

DON’T

Literally party like a rock star.

Why I live by this rule:

There’s a big difference between going out for a few drinks and having a great time, and going out for a few drinks and letting those “drinks” make your decisions for you. I’m not here to preach to anyone, I go out for drinks with my friends as much as any other college student, but I do know the difference between safe fun and “just plain stupid” fun. Falling over and twisting your ankle because you’re disoriented…isn’t fun. Drunk texting the people in your phone terribly embarrassing things…isn’t fun (the next day). Is any of this going to help you make new friends? No. Will I admit that I know some of this stuff from experience? Yes. Do I also know that you can go out for drinks with friends (new and old), not get annihilated, and still have fun? YES. Please heed my advice; your liver and your B.M.I. will both thank me later.

DO

Sign up for fun excursions and trips while abroad!

DON’T

Neglect your studies in favour of too many trips.

Why I live by this rule:

Exploring a new place can be exciting, informative, and rewarding. Trips while abroad also tend to be “hot spots” for meeting new people and making new friends. However, going on trips every week/weekend without keeping up with a) school b) sleep and c) eating habits is a bad plan. Remember that study abroad contains the word “study” in it. As abroad students, we all undertake the challenge of having to balance what we want to do and what we need to do, and in order to go on those trips we “want” to take, we “need” a good routine. I am a huge culprit of the “substituting fun for sleep and food” error, and I can tell you that all it leads to is a) a cold b) the flu c) bronchitis…I could keep going but I may seem redundant. Long story short, take advantage of the trips offered to you but don’t let those trips take advantage of you. If you do, you’ll be homesick and the only friend you’ll want around will be Vicks Vapor Rub.

And finally…

DO

Show your true self to others.

DON’T

Flaunt your true self for others.

Why I live by this rule:

It’s simple. If you want to make truly good friends, you have to be yourself. I know this sounds incredibly cliché, but if the friends you make are actually making friends with the person you’re pretending to be, then they aren’t your real friends. Everyone has their own talents, gifts, and qualities that are unique for a reason. You are not “you” so you can make yourself into what everyone else is. And while I’m on the subject of everyone’s unique talents and such, I will give you this warning. Letting your true self shine is great…showing off is just as uncool, unattractive, and lame as it was when we were in kindergarten and grade school. If you want people to appreciate your talents, it’s best not to throw them in said people’s faces. Trust me, no one likes that…at all. Be modest, kind, and YOURSELF and you’ll be sure to meet the best friends for you.

I hope these tips have helped you a little bit, and maybe eased some of the nervousness any of you may have about making friends while abroad. Remember, everyone is worried about being the “new person” in an unknown place. Don’t let your doubts get to you, and never forget that “Kindred Spirits” are not as scarce as you or I may think they are.