Unfortunately, I missed my host university’s compulsory orientation. Long story short, I work at a summer camp at home in the U.S., so I had to fly to my study abroad destination a bit later than recommended. Life is about balance, so I wrapped up my summer commitment at home, time traveled two days ahead, and landed mid-winter in Australia to start my semester at Western Sydney University.
Whether or not you’re arriving a bit behind like myself, here are four ways you can immediately immerse yourself in your host country while studying abroad.
1. Host a dinner party.
One of the best ways to make friends is through food. Be bold and invite newly met peers to your flat or kitchen for dinner. Offer to make a meal from your home country. I’ve started a casual dinner club with a few other international students, and we rotate who cooks each week, while at the same time inviting new guests to join the fun. This is an excellent way to share food, thoughts, and gain friendships over a meal. Not only will this make you feel at home with a food you’re familiar with; this will also lead to great conversation and cuisine sharing.
2. Study in shared spaces.
Whether at your host uni, around your accommodation or at a local cafe, you will find an open, shared space other than your closed off personal bedroom where you can study. Take advantage of this space (maybe wear some headphones if it gets noisy) and try to meet those around you. This is one way to meet like-minded students or working locals.
3. Find a local place of worship or community center.
I am a Christian, and I knew that I wanted to make my faith a priority while abroad, so I immediately found a church to call home when I arrived. Even if you’re not religious, a place of worship can be an excellent way to meet people of all ages, from all backgrounds who can care for you and make you feel safe and welcomed. I have maintained a strong connection with a family I met during my first week here at church; they even took me to the doctor’s office when I was feeling under the weather.
4. Take advantage of school-sponsored events.
Uni-planned gatherings tend to share the common theme of connecting students. By attending events, like the excursion I went on to Manly Beach, you’ll have the chance to meet students and maybe find some who you share classes with.
No matter if you’re early, on time, or a bit behind, remember to stay calm and have grace for yourself and others, while embracing the adventure to come!
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