Hello my fellow international students!
As an international students myself, I found it quite hard to make friends and feel integrated when I started studying at FIT. American students intimidated me, they spoke so fast and I was afraid that I wouldn’t understand them or they wouldn’t understand me. Every time I met a student from abroad or someone that spoke the same language, it felt like such a relief, like I wasn’t the only one facing these crazy fears. But as an introvert I found it quite hard to go up to people or force myself to start a conversation. Here are some tips that helped me throughout the semesters.
Interacting with students in your major. I know what most of you think… But don’t let it intimidate you, most students (even American) feel exactly the same way. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, at least you have something in common that you can talk about, which won’t make you feel going in completely blind. Group projects too are a great way to make friends and start becoming more social, I know they can be annoying, but they give you more time to talk with them. That’s how I met my best friend at FIT.
Become part a group. Clubs are a great way to make friends, feeling integrated and part of a team. You see the same people every week at the meetings, but also outside during events, fundraising etc. What’s great about clubs, is that you are with people who have the same interests you do, so it will make it so much easier to find similar interests and things to talk about. What I found really helped me was being accepted in the presidential scholars program, it was a much smaller group of people, which made it less intimidating to go up to people. Also most of us were there for the same reasons. Something I really liked about the honors program was that I didn’t only have one class with them, but I would see them on a regular basis at the colloquiums and various event throughout the semesters, which made us get closer without even trying.
Attend events. FIT has so many social events throughout the semesters, just go to one and see how you feel. It won’t hurt trying. That’s how I met my two first American friends at FIT, was during one of the orientation parties.
Community Service. Sign up for community service. You won’t be around only FIT students, but other people from different schools etc. It’s a nice way to meet people, not just from FIT.
Internships. They not only look great on your resume, but they’re a great way to make friends. Most of the friends I made through my internships are older, but I in a way enjoy it much more, because we have more adult conversations and I feel challenged (in a good way).
Campus Jobs. It’s a cool way to make extra money, but also friends! I loved working as a tutor, because without knowing, there are a lot of international students that worked there, so it felt like a very mixed and diverse group of people, not making it so intimidating.
But remember to be yourself, don’t ever try to be someone you are not!