When joining a summer school, many students are filled with feelings of anxiety and stress, particularly over making friends. It can be so nerve-racking to meet new people, particularly if you’ve travelled to another country for your summer course. However, there are some great ways you can prepare to make friends, so keep reading on to find some essential tips for meeting new people.
Start your summer school with an open mind
One of the first things you can do to prepare to meet new people is to get into a positive and open mindset. This is crucial in making sure you’re approachable and not too closed off when other people try to befriend you, but also a great way to face any new and disconcerting situation.
Keeping an open mind also means that you’re more likely to talk to people immediately around you and you therefore have a much higher chance of making friends early on in the experience. Your state of mind might even fill you with a sense of confidence and a willingness to approach those looking a little shy or nervous, making them more at ease and enabling you to begin meeting some great people. Remaining positive and open-minded about the people that you meet ensures you have the best chance of making some great friends right away.
Bring an offering to share
An approach often used by university students when they first arrive in their halls of residence is to bring something to share with those on your corridor/flat. Most summer schools will have a dedicated slot for arrivals over a couple of hours, during which time students will be shown their rooms and given the chance to unpack some of their belongings. During this time, it can be difficult to kickstart the friend-making process as doors are often shut and students can feel a bit isolated and nervous as they wait for formal introductions later in the day.
A great way to banish these negative and scary feelings, as well as get a head start on meeting other students, is to come prepared with something you can offer around or invite others to play. This could be anything from sweets and crisps to a game of cards or a travel-sized game, all of which invite other students to socialise and ease into the experience with a friendly offering. To help facilitate this welcoming approach, it can also be a good idea to use something (even your suitcase!) to prop your door open, as this communicates to other students that you are open and willing to chat. For those who are more nervous, this signal can be really comforting and give them the chance to try and enter into conversation and make a friend, so it’s a really beneficial way to initiate yourself into the summer school experience.
Pack some friend-making essentials
Although we think it’s a great way to open up to make friends, some students might find the idea of propping their doors open and inviting others into their room as too intimidating. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, it can still be a great idea to make sure you pack something you’re willing to share for a little further down the line. For example, bringing a few packets of sweets for when you’ve been introduced to those on your floor can be a good way to ease into conversation later, without making the first move.
It can also be good to bring a social activity with you, like a pack of cards, which you can use to initiate a fun experience with those around you in your free time. It’s likely that most students will feel initially nervous, so having a game that you can all play together will really get the conversation started and provide a social setting to help get to know each other. If you’re coming to the UK from another country, it could also be fun to bring some food or drink from your home country that you can share with your friends to create a culturally rich environment.
Think of a few conversation starters
Whilst simple, creating and memorising some conversation starters and questions can be a really helpful way to get a conversation going with other students. Something as basic as asking where someone has travelled from can open other avenues of conversation, like discussions about local cuisine and weather or language and sights. Other topics could surround the summer school itself, including asking what course people are studying or if they’ve been on a summer experience before.
You might find that some students are very chatty, and you’ll only need to use a couple of your rehearsed lines before the conversation starts flowing naturally. Others might need a bit more prodding before they feel comfortable opening up but it’s important to always remember that it can be an unnerving experience meeting new people so be kind. Also, remember to smile!
Try and include others
If you’ve managed to make a few friends and you see students standing alone, try and include them in your conversations and get them chatting. Extending a friendly hand and inviting quieter students to join you can be a really thoughtful thing to do that makes a big difference to another person. Creating a larger group can also help for conversation and getting to know each other, as there is much more material to work with in terms of moving the discussion along and finding common interests, so including other students really is a win-win!
When you first arrive at a summer school, the experience can be a daunting one, but taking some preparatory steps and staying in a positive mindset can make a big difference and help you make friends quickly.