How to Make Friends During Your Internship Abroad
International internships are an incredible way to develop your skills, learn about new cultures, and create connections with people from different parts of the world. However, traveling abroad as an intern is also an amazing chance to meet new people and even make lifelong friends. Unfortunately, that’s not easy for everyone. Some people find making social connections way harder than creating their business network. This is a guide on how to make the most of your next travel. Here’s how to make friends during your internship abroad and make it the most memorable time.
1. Connect with other interns
Your internship program or organization helps many people like you develop new skills in foreign countries. Reach out to the intern community in the country you’re in and make contact with people in similar situations. It will be much easier to start a conversation and also make friends during your internship abroad. Sharing experiences and giving advice is another benefit that will make your stay a lot easier.
2. Get out
It’s true that the internet can help you make contact, but It’s not possible to make friends without leaving your room. Get out and socialize even when you don’t feel like it. After a long week at work, you might feel like retreating back home, but it’s a good time to go out and meet someone new. Go for a coffee, or stroll at a nearby park or mall – you never know where you can bump into a new friend.
3. Learn the language
If the language is different from your home country, then a language course is a perfect opportunity to meet someone new. For our case, Elective Africa, we offer weekly Swahili lessons to our interns. Learning to speak the local language can be a great way to make friends either through learning it together or by speaking a few words with the locals.
You won't have a problem speaking English at our destinations, however, locals love it when visitors speak a few words in Swahili.
4. Socialize with your coworkers
Going out with the people you work with is a great chance to get to know them better and see how things work outside the hospital/office. Offer to hang out with fellow interns outside the residence. You can also ask our Placement Coordinator to take you to a popular restaurant in the destination. It can be an amazing conversation starter and definitely a way to get to know other people and make friends.
5. Explore the nightlife
A wild night of going out can turn into a true friendship. Ask people you’ve met so far to go out with you and explore the local nightlife. Such nights often end with fun stories you can share as you get to know each other. And who knows, maybe your night-out buddies will become very good friends! This international internship is a chance to develop yourself professionally but also have fun. Take advantage of the time you have off the clock and use it to make some friends.
6. Tag along a friend
Sharing your living space can be an introduction to a lovely friendship. Our shared accommodation setup provides you with the ability to spend time with like-minded students with similar pursuits from all over the world.
7. Go to the gym
Even though some people are there just to work out, others like to chit-chat while taking a break from a difficult exercise. The local gym is the place where you can exercise your muscles but also practice your second language and meet people who share the same interests.
8. Local events
Attending a volunteering workshop, medical camp, festival, exhibition, et cetera are wonderful opportunities to meet someone new and maybe develop an unexpected friendship. Elective Africa organizes medical outreach programs and volunteer initiatives periodically. We also keep our students in the know about upcoming events that are aligned with what they are interested in.
9. Utilize social media
One of the great benefits of social media is that you can meet new people from all around the world without leaving your home. Well, this can be very helpful when traveling abroad for an internship. You can start exploring events, Facebook groups, relevant hashtags, etc., even before arriving in the destination country. Social media can help you meet new people and easily stay in touch with them. It’s especially useful for introverts or people who are shy to make first contact in person. We always connect students who will come during the same period.
Don’t forget to use social media to stay in touch with your friends back home. Having someone familiar to talk to when you’re abroad can be pretty encouraging to start making a connection in the new place. That’s why you shouldn’t forget to give them a call, probably send them a gift from a local souvenir shop, etc.
10. Most importantly, be positive
Being social and outgoing is not always easy when living in a foreign country. There are several barriers that might make you feel uncomfortable and prevent you from meeting new people all the time. However, you should make friends during your internship abroad, and this shouldn’t stop you. Don’t forget that traveling as an intern is not only a professional experience. It’s also a chance to develop socially and culturally and expand your circles in different directions.