As a senior, I have had a relatively consistent friend group since sophomore year, and have not really had to go out my way to new people at Northwestern. However, since coming to Singapore and NUS, I have had to go back to my original friend-making skills. While it has been awkward to go out of my comfort zone and introduce myself to new people, I have met so many interesting, kind, and smart people from all over the world. It is also reassuring to know that most other people feel just as awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning of making new friends. Most exchange students are all in the same group of not knowing anyone or anything in Singapore, so from my experience thus far making the initial “hello” has not been too intimidating. It has been, however, harder to reinforce those friendships and following-up on the many forms of communication — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat messenger. I have learned that not overthinking it and just going for and messaging the new people I met has been the most fruitful in maintaining the new friendships I have made so far.
While juggling adjusting to a new country, campus and university system, making new friends, and adapting to the heat (which is no joke in Singapore), it has also been a new challenge to maintain my friendships back at home and NU. Given the time differences between here and Chicago, I have found myself repeatedly FaceTiming my friends back at NU at 1, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning. It has been somewhat exhausting to find the right balance of talking to my new friends and checking in on my friends and family back in America, but like most new skills, it becomes stronger with practice.
We have not officially started classes yet, where I am also confident I will have to awkwardly make friends and study partners. However, at the end of the day, the initial awkward meeting and smalltalk almost feels like a right of passage for studying abroad.