Making new friends is one of the best parts of studying abroad.

But sometimes, all the distractions of school, work, and cultural difference can but up barriers to meeting new people.

To make it easier – here are the seven habits of international students who make tons of friends while they’re studying in Australia.

They find people who share common interests

People who share common interests are instantly united and always have something to talk about.

There are lots of ways to find like-minded friends, especially online.  Meetup.com is a popular online network that can be searched for groups of people with similar interests who meet face-to-face in their local areas. There are Meetup groups in every capital city in Australia and there’s a group for every type of person. You can find English language groups like the popular Language Connection in Melbourne, sports teams, photography clubs, book clubs, walking groups… You name it, and they’ve got it. You can even start your own group.

Other places to look for people with similar interests are in your university’s clubs and societies listings, or at your local council.

Better yet, choose elective classes that speak to your interests.

They tend to the friendships they already have

Friendships need nurturing and consistency to thrive.  And acquaintances also need encouragement in order to become friends. Remember that person you had a class with all last semester but who now you never speak to? Ask them how they’re going.

Obviously, Facebook and other social media help with this, but apps like Foursquare and Highlight also offer fun new ways to keep up with people in your area that you haven’t seen in a while.

They know the social calendar

Certain periods and activities are optimal times for meeting new people. For example O-week events, the very first week of classes, public holidays, school workshops or festivals. are times when people are looking to connect with others.

Keep track of what’s going on in your city and be sure to check your university’s event calendar. You can find events using Eventfinda or Australia.com.

They expand on the networks they already have

Many people fall into the trap of just hanging around with the people they feel safe with – but friends can introduce you to their friends and this can grow your network exponentially. If you have to, host a party yourself and tell everyone to invite a plus one (or more). If you can’t have a house party there are certain activities that provide a great excuse to ask friends to bring friends such as:

  • trivia nights,
  • team sports
  • pub crawls
  • study groups

Another key element to expanding on your current network is introducing people you already know to one other. Making introductions is a kind thing to do, and people won’t forget that you were nice enough to help them make a connection – and they’ll probably do the same for you in return.

They make the time

It’s easy to let school, work, and daily stresses take up all your time. But you have to deliberately carve out time for your social life and make it a priority. Even if it’s just 1 hour a day that you promise yourself to message with a few friends or go for coffee, make meeting people and tending to friendships a part of your daily routine. It’s just as important as everything else.

They’re honest about their desire to make friends

Have you ever tried to hide the fact that you wish you had more friends? We’re naturally afraid to admit this, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re an international student in a new country so it won’t sound strange if you tell people, ‘I’m trying to get out more and meet new people.’ People will remember that you said that the next time they’re planning a party.

They are useful

Think about it, how many friends have you made because you had to borrow a pen from someone? Or a phone charger? Or because someone offered you some gum? Obviously, friendships are about more than being useful – but having something to give (no matter how small) is a great reason to connect and talk with someone. Be the person who can give advice, knows how to give directions around campus, and always carry a spare pen!