We as humans are social animals. We have the primal need to have people around us and to have social interactions. Friends are an important part of our lives. Finding friends as an adult feels harder than when we were kids, and the thought of having to find a new social circle in a new country might be scary. But this post hopefully reliefs that scare a bit.
First let me give you a very comforting thought: every international student is in the same situation. The country, the school, the people, they are all new to everyone. So you’d definitely not be alone. Also, there’s something similar in all the people who decide to pack up their lives and move to a new country. So finding people you’d relate with is a bit easier.
One of the major concerns I had when I was thinking about moving to Amsterdam, over 2000km away from home, was would I be able to make new friends. Of course everyone said “you’ll make friends in no time”, but when you actually are in that situation it’s terrifying. The thought of leaving my old friends, some of them being ones I’d had my whole life, made me wanna cry my eyes out. So, this post is about that, finding friends and still keeping the old ones still relevant.
When thinking about how to find friends everyone say’s the obvious: school and hobbies. And that’s actually very much true. When coming to study to the VU, I highly recommend participating the introduction week. There you’ll get to know a lot of people from your study and if you’re lucky you’ll find people who will become your new best friends. For example I have found most of my now friends from my introduction week group.
Another way to meet people through school is the workgroups. In the workgroups you work with the same set of people for six weeks at a time, it’s very much possible to find friends from there. Lastly, there’s the most recommended (and fun) one: parties. Be social, interact with people, have fun with people. And before you know it you have a lot of people to call your friends. But for that to happen you need to take initiative and be out there. It’s like dating, the right people won’t just magically appear. You need to be willing to work for it, asking people for a coffee or something like that. But if and when you do that, you will find the right people.
The second option: hobbies. It’s like when we were kids. Do the things you love and meet the people who love that too, and if you keep seeing the same faces from week to week say hi and connect. Of course this is very individual dependent, not everyone has hobbies or has hobbies that include being social. But I’m still putting it out there that this is a possibility. Also a one that worked for me.
In the last year I was living in Finland, I already estranged from most of my high school/childhood friends. It just naturally happened when everyone moved scattered across the country. But I still had a few very close friends. And those were the ones I was scared to leave when moving to Amsterdam. Now 10 months later I’m very happy to say that all of those people are still in my life. We’ve made a conscious decision to keep in touch and work to keep our friendship going. And even though I only see them every four to six months, it’s always like we had seen each other yesterday. I believe that you can keep a friendship going even from thousands and thousands of kilometres away, that’s something you should not worry about. And if you lose friends because you moved to another country to go after your dreams, then those people just weren’t meant to be.
Hope this gave some insight or relieved at least a bit of you possible worries.