Worrying about making new friends abroad, particularly if you are an introvert? Don’t worry – here are some tips!

Worrying about making new friends abroad, particularly if you are an introvert? Don’t worry – here are some tips!

Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity. But the thought of meeting lots of new people from new cultures, making new friends, and adapting a new physical and social environment are daunting for everyone. This is particularly the case for introverts, who might have either a harder time talking with new people and making friends. Indeed, research has found that introverted people are less likely to participate in study abroad activities.


But before going further, let’s find out what it really means to have an introvert personality. Recent research found that many people have the misconception that being introverted means being shy, but this is not the case.


According to the five-factor model of personality, introverted people don’t mind being alone; they like spending time with their friends, but they don’t like being in big crowds. Introverted people have a harder time making friends, but the friendships they make are typically strong and last for a long time. Introverted people don’t seek out a lot of excitement, and don’t joke around often. In other words, an introvert may skip a group trip and instead explore a new place alone, but not because they hate socializing, just because prefer to do things their own way sometimes.


If you think you are an introvert and worry about surviving study abroad, here are a few tips on how to survive studying abroad:



Getting to know the host country and society in advance


Before your departure, do some research about the country, and specifically the city, where you are going to be studying. A study found that if students conduct thorough research about the host country, society, its past and recent history, geopolitics, geography, economy, population, and customs, then students have an easier time settling in the new culture.


Research has also found that if students develop a friendship with a penpal abroad before departure, they have an easier time adjusting. But who has penpals in 2020? A more effective and efficient way to develop friendships with students in other countries to use social networks. Lucky for you, IvyTies has been providing students with this exact feature to connect them with fellow applicants, current students, and also alumni at the same university where you are going.


Now as we saw earlier, introverts prefer to just have a few friends. So developing a friendship before your departure and identifying someone with similar interests as you before you go abroad can help ease your study abroad experience.


Being open


Once you are there, you are going to be in a new environment with new people. It might be draining, but a study by AIFS Foundation found that those who are open to trying all new things go out of their comfort zone to have an easier time adjusting to new cultures. [AS1] Particularly at the beginning of your study abroad session, try to go to events and get-togethers even if they sound weird to you. Being open to new experiences in a new culture can help you get more insights into the local culture, and hopefully, meet new people.


Write a journal


Federica Goldoni, a professor at Georgia Gwinett College in the US suggested that to make the most of your time studying abroad, write a journal. Being in a new place, new culture and a new society will give you a lot to discover. As an introverted person who likes to express their thoughts in some forms, writing a journal is one of activities that you can do while you are enjoying your alone time.


Don’t worry, Just go!


Although research results show that extroverted people enjoy study abroad experiences more, a study also found that both introverted and extroverted can enjoy themselves in the new environment through a variety of ways. Your personality will not affect your self-development as long as you are aware of your personality.


According to a study by Psychological Laboratory London, introverts tend to score higher than extroverts on tests of intelligence. Indeed, many people assume that introverts are smart and gifted. Did you ever notice that many smart students in your class are more likely to be introverted? However, they still seem to be still enjoying their time, even if they don’t have so many friends. So if you are an introvert, don’t worry too much -- studying abroad is a great experience, but only if you let that happen.


Introvert and extrovert tendencies both exist within each individual. But one personality trait is typically dominant. Want to know which one is more dominant for you? Take IvyTies Personality Test to find out!