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Why Study Abroad Friendships are Different

by Jasmine Liu
Why Study Abroad Friendships are Different | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Florence, Italy

The anticipation of going abroad brews in a large pot filled with questions about where you’re going to live, what you will learn, and where you want to travel. It’s all so exciting. Something that slipped my mind was making friends. After arriving in Rome for Orientation, I got a sudden sense of anxiety when I realized that all my friends were back home and I had no close friends in Italy.

I felt like I was in Kindergarten again, trying to make small talk with the students. Making friends is exhausting but, of course, true friendships are absolutely worth the awkward introductions.

Friendships vary in pace depending on who you meet and where you meet. The extraordinary friendships I’ve formed so far are very fast-paced to say the least. One minute we are exchanging phone numbers and the next we are booking spring break adventures. You almost have to judge someone within two days to see if they are compatible with you to explore the world with.

Something about being foreigners together in a city makes the bond stronger. I never understood before why my mom was extra close with her Taiwanese friends, but now I see why: there’s comfort in knowing someone else is just as nervous, and maybe a little afraid as you are, navigating your way around.

Through this process, I’ve learned to be a little pickier with my time. In Italy, I make sure that I spend time with my friends that I know I will keep in touch with years down the line. I’d like to take this idea home with me. It sounds a little insulting, but if I know I won’t be friends with someone in a couple years, I’m not going to invest my time hanging out with them. Time is so precious, especially when the clock is ticking. Everything is already moving so quickly, so I want to spend my time with people I truly care about.

It may have been a little risky going abroad without a best friend but I’m so glad I did, because I met some new best friends that will last forever.

This post was contributed by Jasmine Liu, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.

Why Study Abroad Friendships are Different | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Florence, Italy

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