UNIVARSITY.ORG | How International Students Can Meet Local Students
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16 Aug How International Students Can Meet Local Students

Local students will sometimes be very keen to meet international students, especially if they come from a country or culture that is considered to be high status. An example would be French speakers coming to Australia. Almost all Australians university study the French language at some stage during high school, and read books by French authors like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Paris, macchiatos and their attitude to life all contribute to making French international students ‘cool’. But what about Chinese students studying in the United States, or Japanese students going to the Czech Republic? Here are five tips to meet more local students:

1. Find the people that are interested in you.

If you are Japanese, for example, find out if there are Japanese culture clubs or societies in the city that you are studying. This could be things like Anime appreciation clubs, or Calligraphy groups. These people are locals, and the very fact that you are from Japan makes you an expert, valuable and interesting.

You find these things by searching in the local language, ‘Japanese culture club Melbourne’ other examples would be: ‘Spanish Language Exchange Group Israel’, ‘Russian Music Club Boston’, ‘Cricket club Prague’. The internet is a powerful tool. Make sure though that when you look for Cricket club Prague, that you actually search for it in Czech – so ‘kriket klub v Praze’. If you search for Russian groups in Russian, the chances are they will all be from Russia, and you won’t meet local students.

2. Find people that are interested in the same things as you

I am excited by different types of coffee. I also love Dvorak’s music, and now that you mention it I’m a big fan of Ice Hockey. Often these interest groups will be very small and they will be happy for any one to join and people who are interested in very specific things are usually really happy to find anyone else who loves what they love, and they will be more likely to be patient with your lack of fluency in their language.

On campus join all the clubs you can, and if you can’t find enough clubs at University, then search the net for them and only go to ones that meet in public places.

3. Don’t be shy

This sounds really straightforward, but it’s the hardest thing. If you have an opportunity to speak to someone on campus at university, or anywhere you go, you may as well take it. I recently picked up a hat for a Chinese girl who dropped it, I would have spoken to her, but as soon as she got the hat from my hand, she was already about ten meters away.

If you are in the same class, or always get off at the same train station, then that is a connection. The chances are that the local student won’t take the first step, by asking ‘how are you finding the class?’. And if they do, then you should be as natural and friendly as you can. If you show too little confidence then they will assume that speaking that language is stressful for you, and they will end the conversation quickly and leave you.

4. Orientation Weeks

Join as many activities as you can, even if they cost money. Don’t think it is clever to save money at the start of semester. Go on every camp, every tour, every drinking night you can. Don’t throw your money away, but the start of the semester is the best time to make new friends. Everyone is feeling fresh, looking for people to speak to, a bit nervous. As the semester continues, the chances of making new friends drops if you don’t already have them. People don’t want to make a new friend at the end of the exam, because you may not have classes together again, and if you do, the next class will be in two months.

5. Show that you are interesting

You come from another country, you have a lot of knowledge about places the locals don’t know about or understand. Think of the things that make you special, and when you get a chance to offer insight, whether it be a different way of organising public transport, or a funny scandal that happened Italian Idol then offer this information. It doesn’t need to be tied to your own country, but having a unique perspective is something that most people will value.

If you are an international student and have a unique problem please email me at global.heart.tours@gmail.com.

Dan Ednie

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