G’day mate: Making the grade when it comes to friends and study in Australia

28.03.19

You’ve taken up a tertiary education to further your studies and learn, but that’s not the total student experience. In fact, making friends and forming new connections can be one of the highlights.

There’s a good chance that in the years following graduation you won’t remember everything said in classes, but you’re likely to recall the people you bonded with in and out of class.

And, your connections could help make you a better student (seriously!). One study showed that students who made and maintained friendships were more likely to be academically successful and to graduate. Plus, good mates can help you unwind during times of stress – which is why it’s important to make a little time for socialising, even when you’re busy with assignments and exam prep.

 

Tips for making new friends

It’s not always easy to form connections when you’re in a new environment, so here are some pointers:

  • It’s OK to be awkward. Don’t try to impress anyone or fake confidence – being yourself will help you truly connect with others.
  • Get involved in student life. Look for clubs and societies to join – from drama to faith-based groups, and foodie to budding entrepreneur societies. You’ll likely make some awesome friends and, over time, find your tribe.
  • Create study groups with people in your class. This can help you get to know classmates better and help you study (win-win!).
  • Talk to people. This seems obvious, but sometimes it can be hard to start a conversation with strangers. Looking for common ground can help (e.g. sharing thoughts about a lecture or chatting about recent sporting matches).
  • Practise random acts of kindness. Try buying coffee for someone you’re interested in getting to know, or carry a spare pen in case a stranger forgets theirs – it could be just the opening you need.
  • Volunteer. Most places offer opportunities to be a mentor or have partnerships with community organisations you can join. That way, you’ll come into contact with other like-minded students and potentially make new friends.

 

Making the most of studying in Australia

If you’ve moved from another country to study Down Under, here are some great ways to maximise your Aussie experience:

  • Live on campus. Student housing is one of the best places to meet new people and cement bonds with local and international students.
  • Adjust your expectations. Classes might be structured differently to what you’re used to, while the skills required and the writing style in essays may also be different. Be open-minded, willing to ask questions and adaptable.
  • Build a support network of friends and classmates. Research suggests that international students who develop strong support systems may have a better chance of doing well in a foreign culture.
  • Be active. Living away from family and friends might sometimes leave you feeling a little isolated. Joining the student gym, a swimming group or going for bike rides can help boost your activity levels (and help you meet people, too).
  • Make friends with locals. It’s tempting to stick with other international students, but this cuts you off from getting to know Aussies and learning more about life here. Be curious – talk about your culture and ask locals questions about theirs.
  • Since you’re here, why not check out some of the gorgeous sights and experiences Australia has to offer? It’s generally easier to travel at the end of your studies than before – by then you’ll be more familiar with everything. Hit up your new mates for tips on the best places to go – you might even find others to travel with (#roadtrip)

Charles Sturt University: Insight. 5 tips for international students living in Australia [Online; last updated Apr 2018, accessed Mar 2019] Available from: insight.futurestudents.csu.edu.au

Deakin University. Meeting people and making friends [Online; last updated Nov 2018, accessed Mar 2019] Available from: www.deakin.edu.au

Lonsdale Institute. 8 tips for studying abroad in Australia [Online; last updated Mar 2017, accessed Mar 2019] Available from: www.lonsdaleinstitute.edu.au

OhioLINK: Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center. Campus friends, gender, and college student success [Online; last updated Aug 2014, accessed Mar 2019] Available from: etd.ohiolink.edu

ReachOut. Helping a friend with stress [Online; accessed Mar 2019] Available from: au.reachout.com

The University of Melbourne. Studying in Australia: 10 tips for international students [Online; accessed Mar 2019] Available from: services.unimelb.edu.auThe University of Sydney. Clubs and societies [Online; accessed Mar 2019] Available from: sydney.edu.au

The University of Sydney. How to make friends at university [Online; last updated Sep 2016, accessed Mar 2019] Available from: sydney.edu.au

University of Southern Queensland: Social Hub. Emma: 11 practical ways to maintain orientation friendships [Online; accessed Mar 2019] Available from: social.usq.edu.au

University of Southern Queensland: Social Hub. Lauryn: How to make and maintain friendships as an online student [Online; accessed Mar 2019] Available from: social.usq.edu.au