Socializing in a Foreign City
Study abroad is an incredibly unique experience where you have the chance to forge friendships around the globe. However, amidst the awe and joy of going global, it is a common concern to wonder how you will be able to socialize and build bonds in foreign territory, especially accompanied by a hefty language barrier. Have no fear because I’ve been there! After a phenomenal semester abroad, I returned to Prague as an Onsite Ambassador to put into practice some things I wish I knew the first time around!
Anglo American University
As a student, you will have loads of future friends readily available. AAU is a great place to strike up a conversation, find students with similar interests, or invite someone to grab a coffee at Café de Taxis. CEA makes socializing simple when you are surrounded by like-minded Americans, but the fun of being at Anglo American is the exposure to students from all over Europe. They have much to share and you can learn a lot from getting to know them. AAU also offers student organizations you should take advantage of! A few popular ones are hiking club, organized sports, or writing for the school magazine “The Lennon Wall."
|Photo from Bohemia Switzerland taken on an AAU Hiking Club trip|
There is nothing more unique than interning or volunteering in a foreign city before you enter full-fledged adulthood. Not only is it fabulous to observe the work culture abroad but this is a great way to make contacts around the city. Two years ago, as an intern with the Prague Fringe Festival, I worked closely with my supervisor, Rosie, and the company director, Steve. I worked on social media analysis and organizational research to help the company prepare for its week-long festival of comedy, drama, musical and theatre performances. My supervisors were go-to’s when I needed suggestions for travel and a vacation in Edinburgh (Steve’s home city,) and they were among the first I reached out to when I learned I was returning to Prague. CEA provides outstanding internships to students who apply through these programs. If you aren’t on an internship program, then you often can find volunteer opportunities through Facebook groups that focus on service, or ask locals for recommendations.
| My Internship supervisor, Rosie, and I at
the Prague Fringe Festival ~ 2 years after I interned
Get involved in Czech culture
Prague is overflowing with events to enjoy. From live concerts in the parks to pop up festivals (like Fringe Fest!) to Czech sporting events, this city has too much to offer for how short a period you get to stay. All it takes to enjoy the festivities is getting up and going! Recruit some fellow CEA students and see what's out there. This is fun way to bond with fellow abroad students, locals, and the city of Prague itself. The Prague Visitor is a great magazine to look at for current updates on hot spots, activities, and festivities of each month. You can also look out for CEA's biweekly newsletter for tips on life in Prague and getting involved in the local culture.
|CEA students and I enjoying a Czech sporting event|
Reach out to distant contacts you may have abroad. I knew exactly one person who lived abroad before I came to study. We were friends from high school but knew very little about one another. Despite a distant friendship, we were pleased to get to know each other now that we shared a commonality of international studies. This one acquaintance abroad grew into a close friend both overseas and back home. She even put me in contact with some of her friends in Germany, the Netherlands, and France who I later went to for travel advice, to visit, and to grow as international pals.
|My American friend, Ella, entertaining the park birds when she hosted me in Dublin|
This is likely the most challenging method but by far the most rewarding. Push yourself to engage with others beyond your comfort zone. These experiences are usually the most memorable. The best advice I can share is not to be afraid to try something new or to branch out alone. You can join in various groups around the city and become a regular participant. It may seem intimidating, but newcomers are warmly welcomed, whether you go with another AAU student, a few American friends, or just on your own! Many students like to join sporting teams, church groups, or even social groups made for international travelers.
| Jennifer, a local expat, I met through
Prague’s InterNations community
Best of luck to all those on their abroad journey, especially when it comes to making international friends. Prague is the perfect city to keep a smile on your face and a new friend by your side!
Katie Fanning is a CEA Onsite Ambassador in Prague. She interned abroad in Prague and used her Go Again discount to study abroad in Galway with CEA. If you’d like to learn more about the ambassador program, here is more information.
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