Canada’s tertiary education system is a gem to many international students. Every year, thousands of students from foreign countries come to study in Canada. While the environment is quite conducive, homesickness is a common issue. So, how do you make friends as an international student in Canada?
There are several ways to make friends as an international student in Canada. They include joining a society, attending events, hosting parties, living in student accommodation, creating multiple groups of friends, using social media to connect with your colleagues, and spending more time outside.
However, it’s important to know that homesickness is completely natural. The friends you make in Canada aren’t substitutes for the old friends back home. Instead, they represent an opportunity to widen your circle and meet more people. This article discusses ways you can make friends as an international student in Canada.
Ways to make friends in Canada as an international student
Here are some proven ways to make new friends as an international student in a Canadian higher institution:
1. Join a Club or Society
The university community is naturally the melting point of ideas and orientation, which means many clubs and societies on campus. You’ll find anything debating society from sports teams to all other kinds of hobbies and interests you can think of. These societies give you the best chance to meet people with similar interests as you.
There are also international student associations for different countries, races, and ethnic groups. You can join any of these organizations to retain your sense of connection to your homeland. However, to enjoy the benefits of these societies, you have to attend the various meetups and other programs they might have.
2. Attend Several Events
The first few weeks of every university session are filled with tons of activities and events that offer a new student the best chance to make friends. Since it’s early in the school year, friendship groups are yet to form, which means you can easily find like-minded people. Even though several Canadian students will also be in the school, almost everyone in the first year is just experiencing the university for the first time. So, there are lots of people in need of friends like you too.
3. Host a Party
One of the ways students showed they were cool or tried to get popular in secondary or high school was by hosting parties. Barring any untoward circumstances, it usually worked. You can do the same in university by hosting a party and inviting friends to bring other friends. Of course, that’ll work best if you already have a few friends. But even if you don’t, just put the announcement on notice boards, and you can expect people to turn up.
You can also host a more reserved dinner party and invite your close friends to bring a partner. Parties will generally require planning and cooking in some cases. But it’s not impossible to pull off with few friends and roommates.
4. Establish Different Friendship Groups
One of the mistakes students make in the university is having a single clique of friends they do everything with. While this support group is amazing in many cases, it doesn’t hurt to expand your circle. Just as you have various interests, have a few friendship circles, each playing different roles in your life. For example, you can have a core friends’ clique and still have friendship groups of your sports buddies, book club members, dorm buddies, etc.
This ensures you always have people to call on anytime you feel the need. It’ll save you from boring time and allow you to explore every aspect of your personality.
5. Spend More Time Outside
As an international student, you should minimize how much time you spend in your room in your early days. No matter how lovely your room might look, the less time you spend cooped up there, the more likely you are to make friends. The university offers you the chance to work with other students whether you’re studying together or working on a project.
When the opportunity to work with other students comes up, ensure you are in diversified groups with local and international students. This will further broaden your scope instead of limiting yourself to just the friends you already have. Your room represents your comfort zone, so step out as often as you can.
6. Connect with Your Peers on Social Media
Social media is one the best place to connect with people before meeting them physically. But you can also reach out to your classmates and colleagues there, possibly before the session even starts. So, for example, if you’re shy and don’t want to initiate a physical conversation with a classmate with whom you’re not familiar, you can reach out to them on social media and break the ice.
Your options are unlimited when it comes to social media. Not only do they help you connect with others, but the likes of Facebook and Twitter can also help you remember names and special events about your colleagues. That makes it easier to approach them and seamlessly chat on your common interest.
7. Live in student accommodation.
Some universities make it compulsory for first-year students to live in student accommodation while others don’t. Where it’s optional, it’s advisable that you at least spend your first year in a school dorm. That way, you get to meet more students and make lots of friends. Student accommodation usually has communal spaces where you can hang out, and there are lots of activities and meetups to make your time there interesting.
The university experience is an exciting but terrifying experience for all students, especially international students. But having friends can make your time away from home be a thrilling and rewarding experience with little homesickness. The tips above can help you make friends on campus. But it’s important to be brave and ready to step out of your comfort zone often enough.