As international students, we’ve travelled thousands of kilometres to complete our education. While moving to Australia is an exciting experience, it’s not without its challenges. Adjusting to a new city, a new education system and living without family can all contribute to feeling lonely as international students.
Wondering how to overcome loneliness and how to make friends in a new city? Here are seven easy ways to do just that.
Join a club at your university or TAFE
Clubs are perfect for meeting like-minded people, and luckily, many host both in-person and online events. Attending these events (even on Zoom) is a great way to make friends. If you can attend these events in person, you may enjoy the bonus of free food (yay to saving some lunch money!).
You can find a list of clubs or societies available at your university or TAFE by visiting their website or checking out the student union website. Most clubs are free to join and usually host events every fortnight or so.
Get involved with your student union
Student unions are very active and offer a wide variety of events. Free food? Check. Therapy dogs? Check. Online speed friending? Check.
Many universities have a system where you automatically become a member of the student union upon enrolling in your studies. Make sure you’re subscribed to their mailing list, and you’ll be set for the duration of your course.
Actively participate in classes
While lectures may not be the most conducive for socialising, tutorials and workshops are great opportunities to make new friends and feel a little less lonely.
Be it over Zoom or in an actual classroom, take the initiative and start a conversation with your classmates. You could share social media info and potentially witness your friendship blossoming over late-night assignment discussions. This means you not only make new friends and combat loneliness, but you also get a study group. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
Opt for student accommodation in your first year
If you’re wondering how to deal with loneliness when you first arrive in Australia, you might want to consider dedicated student accommodation for at least your first year.
Student accommodation is a melting pot of cultures, interests and languages. No matter where you’re from or what language you speak, you’re bound to meet similar people. As humans, we gravitate towards people who talk like us or act like us, and student accommodation is the perfect place to find your group.
Student accommodation is designed with socialising in mind, meaning your provider will host a range of events every week that aim to facilitate friendships. There’s no better way to bond with people than over movie nights, game nights, trivia, field trips, and arts & craft sessions. Personally, I found my closest friends at student accommodation. Four years later, and we are as close as can be.
Schedule a call or meeting with friends
Among lectures, assignments and paid work, it can be difficult to catch up with those you have so painstakingly developed a friendship with. To get around that, you could schedule a call or meet-up every couple of weeks. Use a free tool like Google Calendar that you can program to send email reminders to you and your friends.
Seeing your friends regularly will go a long way in beating loneliness and can help boost your mental health. This is because friends give you a chance to vent your problems and seek advice.
Reach out via text every few days
While the internet has made the world a smaller place, it can also put some distance between you and your family and friends. Thankfully, platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram make it easy to send memes, funny videos or a simple check-in message. This takes less than five minutes of your day, but will keep your connections strong.
Check out your state government’s offerings
Luckily, there’s lots of international student support in Australia. Australian state governments have always done a fair bit for international students, and all states and territories have a study body that is concerned with education and student activities.
Simply Google what your local study body is doing in areas like international student support and mental health. Subscribe to their newsletters and attend their events, whether they’re in person or online. Even if you’ve never set foot in Australia, you are eligible to attend your state study body’s events and access their support, as long as you’re enrolled at an educational institution in that state.
Check out the links below for your state or territory: