Ӱ logo

Why You Should Befriend International Students

In recognition of International Education Week (IEW), we'd like to talk about why it's good to befriend international students. IEW, a joint initiative between the US Department of Education and the US Department of State, encourages us to embrace the benefits of international exchange. Let's take a closer look.

Nov 12, 2018
  • Education
  • Study Abroad
  • Student Tips
  • International News
Why You Should Befriend International Students

IEW focuses on building relationships between international students and their host country -- and recognizing the benefits to all.

International student friends are among some of the best to have. They are excited to be on your campus -- and you should be excited to get to know them. Why? New friends are always a good thing, as are new experiences.

In addition to making new friends, you will practice a skill which feels sorely lacking in today's political climate: empathy. You will embrace another person and in the process of understanding their culture, you will also begin to understand what it means to be someone other than yourself.

Here are six reasons why you should befriend the international community on your campus:

1. You can offer a supportive environment

International students seek a supportive place. You can be part of that. International students do their part to diversify your campus. By saying hello, offering a warm welcome, and showing your willingness to help out, you give international students a sense of belonging -- and maybe even a friend.

So say hello. Invite an international student to a campus event, or even just share a meal in the dining hall.

2. You will learn a lot about politics and culture

International students hail from all over the globe. For every country represented on your campus, you will have someone who has experienced a different political system from a different cultural climate.

This is worth understanding because the world, in theory anyway, works together. All of these various systems either collaborate or collide in the process.

It helps to know and understand how those systems work to increase the collaboration and minimize -- if not negate -- the collision.

Knowing more about politics and culture will only help you.

3. You may learn a new language

Not only that, but in many cases you will have the opportunity to learn a new language from a native speaker. So you will have the benefit of learning insults and slang right from the source!

Once you overcome the initial stages of mockery and derision from your new friends, you will be anxious to learn the good stuff. At least that's the idea.

It's a great opportunity for language exchange you shouldn't take that opportunity lightly. Have your fun and don't forget to learn a few things that may be useful, too. You never know, you might excel at a new language!

4. You will have some crazy experiences

International students studying abroad may be more willing to take some risks you wouldn't otherwise take. Why? It may be the one time they are in your country.

Go with them. Sign up for the hot air balloon adventure you wouldn't otherwise do. Attend an international speaker series. Do an alternative spring break.

Seize the day! And don't be afraid to take some of that attitude with you on your life's journey.

5. You will taste delicious food

At a minimum, you will know what to order at a restaurant, or what authentic food from your friend's host country tastes like. Because if you go to school in a big city, chances are high that you'll come across a restaurant with your friend's cuisine. You may even seek it out.

Go with them, eat what they eat, figure out what you like, and savor the flavor!

6. Convinced? Here's how to forge those relationships

Beyond the initial "hello"s and invitations to things, you can attend meet-and-greet events for international students and talk with them and invite them to meals, study sessions, and social events.

The bottom line is don't be shy. Be your friendly, warm, inviting self and be open to new experiences. Watch what happens.