Cultural Experience | Australia

Why The Friends You Make While Studying Abroad Are Different Than Your Friends At Home

For anyone on the fence about studying abroad because of missing friends – Just go!

I have always been the type to make friends everywhere I go; classes, academic organizations, even in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I just have an easy personality to connect with, and I can honestly say that I have no enemies (to my knowledge)! Having amazing people in your life just makes it worth living because you have a reason to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. I am happy that I can say that I have wide variety of friends who are all so different from each other, but still touch my heart in ways unimaginable. However, it really only took me a couple of weeks into my incredible semester abroad to Gold Coast, Australia to realize that the people in my group were different than any group of people that I had ever crossed paths with before.

While studying, traveling, and living in Australia with a group of 75 other outgoing American college kids may seem like MTV’s Real World on steroids to anyone else, these people were everything BUT crazy and dramatic—they all became my best friends in 4 short months. This is why the people you meet while studying abroad are much different than the friends you make at home growing up and in college, and maybe even better for some. There is a completely different and unexplainable dynamic in friendship when you meet others who are also studying abroad. Anyone can be thrown into a college dorm, but students who decide to venture off and leave home for a semester or the summer have, what I feel, are the most important traits to possess—hunger for adventure, seeing beauty in every situation, and passion for life. Every single person in my group of 75 portrayed these qualities each and every day, whether it was in the classroom, or just navigating a new city together.

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Now don’t get me wrong, the friends that I’ve made throughout college are my go-to people and incredible in their own ways. We’ve gotten each other through the trials and tribulations that college offers. But like I said before, a different dynamic exists in those relationships as opposed to the friends that I made abroad. Sure, we can sit around hungover in our tiny college town apartments watching reruns of Parks and Rec on Netflix all weekend, or we can get out and explore a park, hike a mountain, or sample new foods that we can’t even pronounce. One of my roommates abroad in Australia and I would constantly find something cool to do just by talking to locals or looking online and doing it. We would easily Google how to get there with the Wi-Fi in our apartment, find the right buses or trains to take, and just go. We could literally get up to a few hours away from our starting point just by using public transportation, it was so awesome. She easily became one of my best friends in the entire world because we shared the same mentality about traveling—just follow a path and see where it leads us. This go-getter attitude is something that I haven’t found in any of my friends from school, but have found in all of my friends abroad. We all had a strong desire for just getting up and going, whatever it was. There is such a rush you feel when you finally make it to the scenic beach you wanted to visit, or find that cathedral tucked away in a city, even just getting on a plane to your next destination. You will truly understand this amazing feeling if you’ve studied abroad or have traveled extensively. Being the only one of my group my friends from home who has done this, I’m so glad that I could share it with people who also have cravings to try new things and be in new places all the time.

For anyone on the fence about studying abroad because of missing friends, just go. You will 100% regret it if you don’t. For me, I always knew I wanted to go my whole life, but was skeptical about it when the time came to apply because I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun times with my friends in college. I finally came to my senses, and realized that the insane college bar scene, activities with my sorority, and all my friends would be right there waiting for me when I got home. Though it is very difficult to describe the experience to my friends at school because they just weren’t there, I know that I have 75 lifelong friends that I can easily talk about memories with. There is a sense of community that you build with people when you travel and see the world together. You learn, you grow, and you thrive together, which, trust me, cannot be achieved at a Saturday morning football tailgate. I’m so lucky that I made such incredible memories with people who truly see beauty in every aspect of life, and I hope to meet more people like this in my future endeavors.

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Nicole Darian

University of Iowa | 7 stories

I'm a recent grad of the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications and Entrepreneurial Management. Along with my travel addiction, I love Chicago sports, I'm a workaholic, a gym rat, and you'll always find me exploring new restaurants. I'm currently on a backpacking trip around the world. Where should I go next?


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