The Exchange Student's Guide to Making Friends

Are you an exchange student embarking on a thrilling adventure in a foreign land? One of the most enriching experiences of your exchange program is the opportunity to make new friends. Building meaningful connections can enhance your cultural immersion and make your time abroad even more unforgettable. In this guide, we'll explore how to make friends, where to find them, and with whom to form lasting bonds during your exchange adventure.


How to Make Friends

Be Friendly

high school students talking in the hall

Making friends starts with a warm and approachable demeanor. When you arrive in a new country, wear a friendly smile, and don't be afraid to initiate conversations. Approachability is your first step towards building connections.



teen boy smiling

Smiling is a global language with diverse interpretations, but in the United States, it's a cherished tool for building connections. Americans have a genuine affection for smiling, considering it a vital ingredient in the art of making friends. It communicates warmth, openness, and a welcoming spirit, making it an essential element of social interaction in the USA.


Ask Questions

girl surrounded by question marks

Show genuine interest in others by asking questions about their interests, hobbies, and experiences. People love to talk about themselves, and by showing curiosity, you'll make them feel valued and appreciated.


Show an Interest in Others

three teens talking and smiling

Making friends isn't just about talking about yourself; it's also about actively listening to others. Engage in conversations, pay attention to their stories, and respond thoughtfully. This will help you establish deeper connections with the people you meet.


Ask for Help

one teen girl giving another directions

Struggling to grasp your homework? Confused about the rules of football? Lost on campus and can't find the library? Your classmates hold the keys to your questions! Don't be shy about seeking assistance; it's a gateway to making fresh connections, and it could be the beginning of a fantastic friendship!


Where to Make Friends

At School

smiling teens walking down the hall

School is a hub for potential friendships. Attend school events, participate in class discussions, and join extracurricular activities to meet fellow students who share your interests.


Join a Sports Team

teen boys on a basketball team

Whether or not you're athletically inclined, consider joining a sports team. It's a fantastic way to bond with teammates, improve your skills, and foster a sense of camaraderie.


Join a Club

two teen girls doing robotics

Clubs cater to various interests, from art and music to science and debate. Joining a club related to your hobbies or passions can help you connect with like-minded individuals.


Church Youth Group

youth group discussing the Bible

Regardless of your religious beliefs, getting involved with a church youth group can be an excellent avenue for meeting new people and forming friendships. In the United States, these youth groups often engage in a wide array of exciting activities. Plus, even if you're not religious, participating in the spiritual aspects can provide a captivating cultural experience worth exploring.


Take a Class

teens at a spinning class

Enrolling in classes outside of your regular curriculum, such as cooking or fitness can introduce you to people who are eager to learn and grow, just like you. Ask your host family to help you find what’s available in your area.


Teach a Class

teen girl teaching German

You're already a pro when it comes to your language and culture, so why not share your knowledge with others? Taking the initiative to offer a class or lead a workshop can do more than just help you forge new friendships; it can also allow you to shine a spotlight on your expertise for others to appreciate.



two teens collecting donations

Volunteering offers a fantastic opportunity to contribute to your host community, and it's a classical American activity! Chances are, there are numerous volunteer openings both within your school and your host community. Dive right into this enriching cultural experience!


With Whom to Make Friends

Be Open to All Ages

teen girls in the cafeteria

In the United States, it's common for high school students to form friendships with peers from different grades. Don't limit yourself to your own grade level; be open to connecting with teens who are both older and younger than you. These diverse friendships can offer unique perspectives and experiences.


Trust Your Host Family's Concerns

teen girl and mom posing

Your host family is there to support and guide you during your exchange program. If they express concerns about a particular friend or group of friends, take their advice seriously. They have your best interests at heart and want you to make friends who will positively influence your experience.


Embrace Diversity in Friendships

group of teens sitting on a wall

While you will naturally have a lot in common with other exchange students due to shared experiences, don't limit your friendships to them. One of the most enriching aspects of your exchange is the opportunity to connect with locals. When you think back on your exchange experience, you'll certainly want American friends to be part of those cherished memories. These friendships can provide you with deeper insights into the culture, traditions, and way of life in your host country.



Making friends as an exchange student is an exciting and rewarding journey. By following these tips on how to make friends, where to find them, and with whom to form bonds, you'll enrich your cultural exchange experience and create lasting memories.

Remember, a friendly smile, genuine interest in others, and an open mind can go a long way in building meaningful connections that will last a lifetime. Embrace the opportunity to make friends from all walks of life, and your exchange adventure will be truly unforgettable.

*This article was created with assistance from ChatGPT

Tags: Cultural Exchange, Exchange Student, Making Friends

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