My biggest fear before I left to study abroad was that I would be alone and not make friends. I didn’t want to be lonely and bored by myself and that really worried me. The day I said goodbye to my family and walked into the airport solo was hard for this reason. I was immediately by myself and didn’t know what my future abroad would hold. Luckily, it did not take long before I had lots of people to hang out with and explore Europe with.
If I could give any advice to someone going abroad it would be to not overthink being alone and to not worry about making friends.
There are so many different people in my program from all over the United States. You are sure to meet some people to stay busy with! You may even end up meeting people from other programs in classes and that helps a lot, as well.
My study abroad group in Madrid is one of the smaller ones with AIFS. We have about 15 students this semester. I know that other AIFS programs often have many more participants, which can make it even easier to meet people due to the sheer quantity. We all have our individual personalities, but we also are similar in many ways — one of which is wanting to study abroad.
Many people who study abroad go alone and don’t know anyone before departure. It was helpful that everyone in my group was in the same position in having to meet new people. Because no one had a travel buddy or buddies at first, we immediately started exploring and planning trips together. Our AIFS Resident Director has many things planned for us to do as a group in Madrid, such as excursions, trips, and activities during both of those. With all of the day trips and weekend trips, you really start to get close to everyone and find your people organically.
Since I am living in the apartment option with five other girls in my program, we tend to do a lot together and have one another to talk to. We go out to dinner, shop, and walk to classes together. It works out super conveniently because we always know what one another are up to and can tag along with each other at any time. My roommates and I have also gotten really close since we spend a lot of time together. I recently turned 20 and they helped make my day special abroad. They decorated the living room with balloons and a banner, and they even surprised me with a cake, candles and singing.
We are all a long way from home and family. Developing these relationships and making friends abroad who are always there has been really nice, and confirms that I had no reason to worry about going overseas alone.