When you first take off for your study abroad program, one of the biggest worries that clouds your mind on your plane ride is whether you will be able to easily make friends or not. Try not to worry too much as many of your fellow “study abroaders” are having the same thoughts. These thoughts are what makes everyone extra welcoming and friendly in the beginning as they all begin the search for the friends that will accompany them on the amazing experiences their study abroad experience promises them. Eventually, you will find friends with whom you will want to do everything. These study abroad friends will become some of the greatest friends you will make in your life, during and after your study abroad experiences.
In the beginning, conversations tend to be filled with exchanges of what both of you know and like about the country, and what you would both like to experience and do with your trip. In my first week, my newly formed friends and I had made plans to explore our new city during the weekend, and major trips around and out of the country during the course of our program. During your stay you want to go everywhere and try everything; and of course having these new friends along for the ride makes it all a lot more enjoyable, especially as they wish to do the same. You all understand that you have limited time to fit everything in, so study abroad friends are willing to go along with all your wishes and requests, and explore. In between classes, my friends and I often delighted each other with promises to ride the subway around Seoul and getting off at stops we had never been to before, just for the sake of learning each nook and cranny of the city before our time to leave arrived. As a result, you make many priceless memories together and form friends who are willing to follow you through with any plan you may have.
After your program, you are surely bound to miss them and your time abroad. There is no better way to ease your longings then by recounting stories and sharing pictures. However, your dear friends and family at home do not always have the same interest and may even get tired of all your talk about study abroad. A month after returning, my sister had told me that Korea was all I ever talked about and in that moment I severely missed my friends. This is why study abroad friends are just as important after your return. Your study abroad friends will never get tired of hearing your stories and looking at your pictures as they are likely doing the same. Sometimes you may tell one of those “you had to be there” stories that others may not understand and enjoy, except for them who were most likely a part of them. There is nothing like spending an hour-long phone call reminiscing about the time you spent trying to figure out public transportation.
Study abroad friends are also great as travel companions. People who study abroad obviously have an interest for seeing the world. It may be hard to find that friend back home who would willingly hop across the world with you, but the friends you make abroad already share that same connection. In our time together, conversations often drifted to where else in the world we would like to visit. After study abroad, our conversations are still often about this topic, we always talk about our next travel plans. Study abroad friends are always willing to help you on your next travels whether that be offering a place to stay if possible or recommendations for an enjoyable trip. Even more likely, they will extend an invitation to you to join them or plan a whole trip for all of you to explore another corner of the world. Even though it has been almost a year since my friends and I first met, since then I have had invitations to come and see them in Boston and Costa Rica, and we are currently planning a big month long excursion for the summer time.
Now that study abroad is over and we have each returned to our respective homes, our friendship has not been left behind. The great thing about making these friends while studying abroad is the connection you will always have with each other. Even if time passes and not a single word is uttered between you two, with one word of greeting, you still act like great friends who just saw each other yesterday. You are always glad to catch up with each other and reminisce of the time you spent with each other. Because nothing helps you connect with a person better than the crazy up and downs of your study abroad adventure you shared. Of course you will have your friends from home, but you will always have a special place in your heart for friends you went across the globe to make.
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