While studying abroad, among the other priceless possibilities that lie before you, the
chance to make lifelong friends from around the world is one of the sweetest. Afraid to end up all alone and wondering how you get those friends? Fortunately, many people are interested in new friends, just like you. So heads up, find them and show that you are one of them!
- Join ESN Utrecht activities
Erasmus Student Network (ESN), the name says it all: a great chance to network with other international students. ESN organises activities and trips in Holland but also abroad. The ESN organises an introduction week and every Tuesday there is a special ESN night in Poema where you can enjoy (cheap) beer together with other international students. For meeting Dutch people you’re in the right place too: a lot of the committee members of ESN are Dutch and very happy to meet people from other countries!
- Approach people
This advice seems obvious, however, being abroad means starting all over again and it might be necessary to really push your limits. Putting yourself out there and starting a conversation can open up a word of opportunities, allowing you to meet new people, share ideas and get over your shyness. Just ask that nice French girl for a cup of coffee, ask your neighbour for a walk or invite people to a pre-party at your house.
- Be open minded
Get out of that comfort zone! International students, or people in general, tend to do what they’re used to do and stick together. Try to do something different. Watch the Dutch people, meet them for dinner and try new foods. Let them teach you about their culture and customs. Being open minded also means that you’ll have to accept the people around you for who they are. Meeting people from several countries means facing a lot of differences between yourself and them. Try to like the things that seem strange to you in the first place.
- Learn and use the language
Especially when you originate from an English-speaking country, you may be tempted to only speak English. And of course, Dutch people do speak English quite well, which makes it even more tempting to cling to your native tongue. Learning the local language and actually using it will take you one step closer to really settling and feeling home abroad. Chatting with your Dutch roommates, the mailman or ordering a pizza in Dutch will not only help to improve your language skills, it will also help you adjust to the new situation and overcome cultural differences.
- Join and use social networks
In times of social media developing rapidly, the benefits for international students become clear: It is an easy way to get in contact with other international students. If you’re feeling alone, why don’t you send a message in the Facebook group for international students in Utrecht, asking if someone will join you for a walk around the city? There’s a 100 % guarantee that someone wants to join!
Good luck and make sure you’ll end up like this!