My study abroad program is pretty small. As in there are 20 of us: 15 girls and 5 guys. We all live in the same building and eat at least one meal together a day. There are many positive things about having such a small group in small quarters. For one, we’re kind of like a family and we all support each other in our various endeavors. Secondly, it’s never hard to make plans. All you have to do is walk down the hallway to find people. Lastly, our classes are really small. Some of us have one-on-one lessons!
However, I’ve really enjoyed meeting people outside of the group. First off, it’s fun to change things up and spend time with different people. Also, people outside of your program may have some good nightlife suggestions, favorite restaurants in an area of town you’ve never been to, or just travel tips.
But it can be hard to meet people outside of your program. Especially if you’re kind of shy. So it’s all about being proactive. Here are some tips that have worked for me.
1) Ask your friends and family if they know anyone else who is in the same area as you. I don’t have any family in Israel nor did I know many Israelis before I came here. Whenever I talk to friends from college, camp, or even high school, at least one person mentions that they have friends on a different program in Tel Aviv, or that they have friends who live here. Last week, I went over to a friend of my grandparent’s for Shabbat dinner. It was so nice to have a home-cooked meal again. It was also really nice for me to spend time with older people…I’ve always been one to get along well with my grandparents and their friends. This week, I had dinner with a friend of one of my camp-friends. She is on a different program here. It was really fun to compare our experiences, exchange tips about bars, and play Jewish geography.
2) Try to meet locals. Of course, this can be very difficult. And I admit I haven’t done the greatest job of this…I’m trying to get better. If you’re at a restaurant one day, try talking to the person sitting next to you. You have absolutely nothing to lose. If they’re unfriendly, then just go about your business and have fun with your friends. But most likely, they’ll be really nice and you’ll figure out that you have something in common. If you have classes with local students, try to sit next to someone new. Same rule goes here, you have nothing to lose.
3) Talk to the bartender. When you’re out at night, ask the bartender what the big nights at the bar are. He’ll probably tell you about some cool events going on in the city in the next month. And maybe you’ll even get a free drink out of it!
Comment if you have any tips to share J
Charlotte and her friends in Israel!