When first arriving in England, you might be expecting your new friend group to be filled with posh accents and tea-sipping, but in reality that’s not the case. In fact, after I moved across the pond, about 80% of my friends were other international students from around the globe. While making friends born under Her Majesty is important, here are some reasons why welcoming other international students is even better…
They’re just as lost as you
Traveling to university can be stressful: new house, new city, new teachers and new friends. You may feel like the world is against you, but rest easy in the thought that everyone else feels the same way.
Hurdle over the language barrier
Most people will immediately point to learning a new tongue as a great reason to make new friends. However, while learning how to curse in 5 different languages is an entertaining party trick, having international friends teaches you more on speaking English than any other language. Depending on where your friends are from, you might have to cater your speech so that everyone can understand each other. Honing your circumlocution skills is not only important for movie nights, but an important talent for any profession.
Who doesn’t love food?
In the event you make an acquaintance who is familiar with different cuisines from your own, food is often the first step in becoming fast friends. Invite some people over for some “TexMex,” cheesesteaks or perhaps your Italian grandmother’s best recipes. Have fun with experimenting in making your own meals – it’ll improve your own cooking skills and others can try great dishes in the process!
Not only will you learn how to make your own food, you can try out food from another culture! A perfect example is when my Japanese friend prepared a home cooked meal for our friend group. As silly as it sounds, some of us learned that Japanese food isn’t only sushi and miso soup. You’ll muster the courage to eat whatever they put in front of you, and experiment with ingredients you’ve never heard of.
Brush up on “Fishbowl Philosophy”
Learning about different cultures helps break down stereotypes you may have of nations and other ethnicities. You’ll grasp the‘dos’ and ‘dont’s’ of other cultures, from hand gestures to table etiquette! In university, there’s always a reason to celebrate, and what better excuse than to brush up on some international traditions! I held a Chanukah party for my friends, as some of them had never heard of the Jewish Chanukah celebration. Finally, all of this knowledge gives you a multicultural perspective; you’ll have learned how to navigate the world with an eye for understanding and empathizing with a variety of environments.
Learn to develop a better sense of self.
When I moved from a small town in New Jersey to a big city in England, I came in with the expectation that my life would be similar to those across the pond. I thought my experiences would be the same as what the world sees on TV, and convinced I lived the drab life of a family sit-com; I could never compete with my flatmates from Zimbabwe and Malaysia. However, after befriending people from all over the world, I learned there’s more to my identity than being ‘from New Jersey,’ and that people want to befriend “all of you“, not just your hometown.
Remember that it’s all about give-and-take, not just putting yourself out there! So go out and attend some cultural clubs, visit international events, or try a new sport. Making friends from across the globe improves your understand of the world and its different cultures!
If you want to learn more about studying in the UK contact one of the Across The Pond Advisors!