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From Strangers to BFFs: Making Friends Abroad

by Makena O'Malley
Four AIFS Abroad students in Greece

So far, one of the best things I’ve experienced while studying abroad with AIFS has been our very first AIFS dinner. It was the day after I flew into Athens. I was so tired and not used to the time difference yet, but my friend Kylie and I went to the dinner anyway. It has completely shaped my study abroad experience.

While we were sitting at the table, we made friends with the two girls who were sitting across from us, Hope and Ally. All four of us were so jet lagged, tired, and just out of it — but somehow we managed to keep the conversation going and got to know each other.

Despite hardly knowing these girls, we decided to plan every weekend trip together with them, and it was one of the best decisions ever. So far, the places we’ve experienced with them have been amazing. We’ve explored London, Rome, Barcelona, Santorini, Meteora, Crete, and soon will go to Mykonos.

Meeting them has made my study abroad experience so much better. I always have a go-to group to hang out with, go downtown with, and to plan trips with. Surprisingly, we all have gotten along so well even though we haven’t known one another very long. All of our personalities work so well together, which has made all of our weekend travels and experiences together so much fun.

I think that this type of friendship is unique as compared to my other friendships. These relationships were essentially built overnight, with little time to get to know them or hang out regularly before jumping into  planning adventures and trips for free weekends. Spending three-to-four days with them while traveling made our bond so much stronger.

It’s amazing how you get to know people differently when you go on adventures with them. Whether it’s sitting around in the airport for two hours before our flights took off, or bus rides to and from wherever we were staying, or even 5-hour train rides — we got really close really fast. We have insides jokes that seem to get more and more funny as time goes on, a group chat that never stops going off, and memories that will last me a lifetime.

The four of us are constantly talking all day every day, and on the days where we don’t see each other, I start to miss them. It just shows how close we’ve gotten. Since Ally and Hope live across on the other side of the United States from where Kylie and I live, we are already planning on visiting them sometime this summer or in the fall, and will definitely stay in touch for years to come.

I’ve found two amazing new friends, and built a new kind of relationship with a friend I already had, during this experience. I’ve pretty much spent my whole time studying abroad with them. I can’t imagine doing life without them after this is over. I also can’t imagine not talking to them every day or seeing them every day. Parting ways will be so hard when study abroad comes to an end, but I’m confident that we’ll never lose touch throughout the rest of our lives.

These are three of the most caring, free-spirited, and incredible girls I have ever met, and I am so thankful to have spent my study abroad experience by their sides, creating lifelong memories!

This post was contributed by Makena O’Malley, a student from Washington State University who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Athens, Greece.

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