When you move into a new environment, especially a foreign country to study, it’s usually challenging meeting people as you are in a strange land. You’ve left your parents, siblings, friends you’ve had since childhood, and sometimes you’re homesick.
Asides from the fact that you have to open a bank account, know your way around, look for a comfortable and affordable apartment (which we already have an article on how to get accommodation), meeting people and making connections is very vital because “no man is an island”.
Now that you’ve settled in, the next thing you may want to prioritize is meeting people and making friends. With a great group of people/friends, your study and stay in Germany would be a roller-coaster. However, studying in Germany allows you to meet people from different parts of the world.
“How best can I put myself out there?” is the question on your mind right now. Calm down, do not worry because we have tips on how you can become a social buddy in Germany.
Call the people you already know. Perhaps you already know people in Germany before moving over, now is the time to reach out to them. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been MIA on him/her, they could be your saving grace. Call them over for coffee and by doing that, you get to meet their friends which is a win-win for you.
Be inquisitive about knowing people in your program. Your first day at school should be an interesting one, as you may want to speak to people and getting to know them, at least their names. You may want to ask further about the country they came from. One trick is to speak to a group of people because they are willing to make friends equally. Note that you’ll have classes with these people and automatically be in each other’s faces for a very long time. What better time to stir up that conversation, if not on your first day in school? Grasp that opportunity and help yourself settle in better.
Join a club society
Asides from the fact that you would get to meet people outside your program, joining a club would also help you learn and have fun at the same time. Where ever you find yourself in Germany, there is a possibility that club societies are around your proximity in and out of school ranging from – sports club, dance club, drama club, reading club, comedy club, cooking club, music club, and many others you may have interest in. All you need to do is sign up and begin. An added advantage to this is that you never get to miss home as your mind is occupied with several activities.
Attend many events as you can
The first few weeks after you’ve settled in should be utilized, this is also an ideal time to make friends. Visit the bars and sing karaoke, unwind a little. This is the same time other foreign students who travelled miles away from home are keen on meeting new faces just like yourself. Always remember to dress well, as first impression matters.
Purchase a door-stop
For students who reside in the school accommodation, this may sound funny, but it would go a long way to help you make friends. You may want to leave your room door ajar and your neighbour passing by may want to see how your room looks like. Seize that opportunity to offer him/her a cup of coffee and talk about your activities for that day, before you know it, you both are friends and the chain gets longer, circle, wider.
Avoid spending more time in your room
You may want to spend less time in your room, no matter how comfortable it is. Stop staring at your ceiling and studying alone. When there’s a group assignment, it is advisable to not opt for foreign students like yourself; partner up with some local students as well. You’ll have the advantage to talk to them and ask relevant questions about Germany, nibbling on some snacks and drinks. You may also want to visit the gym, as it is another location where one can establish contact. Also, running in the evenings can make you leave your room as you’d meet people with similar interests.
Enrol in German lessons
Enrolling in German lessons will help a great deal, especially for those who are not fluent in the language. This will aid in your communication with the locals, also helping you connect. It means that you’d likely meet people with the same interest – people learning German; all new to the language. You all can practice German by just conversing and going with the flow over a drink, it will help you learn better and faster, and you’ve killed one bird with two stones; learning German and making friends. Here is a link you may want to click for information on where to learn German. If you have already started learning German, you may join the Deutsch für Anfänger group here, where they meet once per week to practice German.
Talk to that person on the train/bus
These days, we tend to be engrossed with our phones, fiddling on them where ever we go. On your way to school on a bus /train, you can talk to the individual seated right beside you. Saying “good morning” with a smile on your face will go a long way, you may never know, he/she needed that to lighten up their day. You may want to take advantage of any situation around you; like appreciating their outfit and voilà! You’ve started a conversation which could lead to a great friendship.
Take advantage of social media
Technology has made things easy for us today, whereby we sit in the comfort of our homes chatting with a total stranger using our smartphones. However, some persons do not buy this idea, this point isn’t for you as we’ve pointed out lots of ways you can make friends offline.
Some applications which you might want to use in meeting people are;
Meetup: This is most likely used in Germany to make online friends. All you have to do is visit the Meetup site, sign up and create a profile. You can also join various groups of your interest. International groups on the site are basically for fun and you may want to partake in some activities at your leisure. Similar to MeetUp are Expat communities like Inter Nation. You may join the German community to make good professional friends.
Facebook Groups: Facebook groups are also a go-to when looking to make friends and meeting people in Germany. An ideal tip to look for foreign groups is to search “New in” “international in” including the name of the city you reside in, then click on “group” to make your search easier. For every city in Germany, you’ll find something.
Twitter: Twitter is an application that is widely used around the world. Be rest assured that you will find someone in your location who is also looking to meet a nice face. All you need to do is download the Twitter application, sign up, make a tweet adding your location, and you may be lucky to find someone. However, you need to engage in tweets from individuals on the application.
While social media is an easy medium to meet people, you should be security conscious, by meeting your online friends in an open space until you’re comfortable being around them.
Do some volunteering work
Volunteering is a great way to meeting people as you all have a common interest /goal; help the refugees, homeless, etc. Participating in these may be challenging at the beginning, especially if you don’t speak German. This is also an excellent opportunity for you to improve your language skills as you interact more with the locals.
Join a Religious community
You may want to look for a community that practices your religion and be engaging. By doing this, you know that you have a family that gathers together with the same faith away from home, you can visit whenever you feel down or unhappy. Put in efforts to attend your services accordingly. You can find some of them here, offered by Universität Konstanz.
Avoid being judgemental when meeting people, be open-minded. School is filled with different kinds of people, and you shouldn’t write people off before getting to know them. You can make friends anywhere.
Get a Job
Getting a part-time job is another way of meeting people. You get to increase your circle of friends outside the campus environment. As much as this is a great idea, it is only applicable to those who own a work permit. You can find out about how much you can earn as a student in this short article.
Now that you know every trick on how to become a social buddy within your fingertips, you should put all you’ve read in this article into practice. Make a conscious effort to visit places. Put yourself out there and build a network with not just the international students, but also with the locals. I wish you the best of luck as you explore.