Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

How To: Make Fast Friends

The term “life changing experience” gets thrown around a lot when you talk about study abroad, and it makes sense.  How can one travel the world without having their experiences affect them somehow, right?  I knew this going in, but I kind of thought that I would just have this set of experiences in my back pocket.  My life changed because “go to New Zealand” is checked off the to-do list, you know?  What no one tells you about is the hardships that make it life changing, and not check-that-off-the-list life changing, but an improvement on you as a person.

Now that I have been here in Dunedin for about a week, I can see that this trip is going to change me.  It is the very beginning and I am already learning more about myself than I thought.  This first week in Dunedin has been hard.  I love the city and I love that I am on this adventure, but I didn’t realize how much I rely on my safety net of friends and family at home and at school.  I have spent a lot of time alone because as weird as it sounds, I don’t really know how to make friends.

Let me clarify on that statement.  I am a social person and have absolutely wonderful friends, but this whole dropped into another country situation is not how I made them.  I take my time making friends.  I don’t force it.  I just spend time with people and let the bond grow from there.  It is like planting a seed and patiently waiting for the most beautiful flower to bloom.  My whole life I have been in small schools and sports teams, so I am constantly surrounded by similar groups of people.  My freshman year of college was a bit miserable because I wasn’t close with to many people, but by the end I had great friends in my tennis team.  My sophomore year, last year, was wonderful because I had great friendships with those girls already built on a backbone of time spent together.  The process happened again last year.  I joined the ultimate Frisbee team in the fall and by the end of the year I found myself completely comfortable with a group of guys from the team.  So, in summery, for me, friendship is like gardening.

Ok, back to now.  I don’t have a whole year to make great friends.  If I wait that long I will have had no fun shared on this adventure, and that just isn’t as much fun.  I have been feeling really stressed about it lately, especially because it seems like most people from IFSA-Butler have already found where they belong.  These are all people whom I really like, but how do you get in on a group that is already solid?  Is there room for one more?  And how do you get in on a group without looking desperate?  I have been asking these questions over and over in my head.  It is like I need a book, How To: Make Fast Friends.

The truth is, though, I don’t need that book.  I know what to do.  I have to stop sending myself off on my own.  I need to put myself out there, and if people don’t like it, whatever, this is a 20,000-person school.  I can loose them in the crowd while finding people who will accept me and whom I feel comfortable with.  So, this is where I am going to change.  I know I am awesome; I just have to get out there and show it.  That is how I will make not just fast, but lasting friends.

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