Studying abroad feels a lot like starting college over again. You meet tons of new people at orientation and immediately make impossible plans to do impossible things. Inevitably, the people you met at orientation form their own groups, and you form yours.

I’m going to give you a little inside scoop: When you sign up through a program, you are unconsciously picking your new friend group. One of the most interesting things that I have noticed since coming here is how after our orientation at Veritas, almost everyone made friends only within their respective programs. It took weeks, if not a full month, before people really stepped out of their groups to make other friends outside of their programs.

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The whole 2016 spring semester Veritas crew

It’s a strange concept to understand if you’re not here, but it’s so much easier for us as humans to form bonds with people that we feel we have more in common. Therefore, in this strange new place with strange new people, we are drawn to any kind of connection that we can find. It just so happens that being in the same program provided enough criteria for us to clump together and assume that we had the best chance of making friends within that group.

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My study abroad program group on our excursion to Panama.

I’m not claiming to be immune to this-the best friends that I have made here so far are coincidentally in my program- but it is something that I have taken note of and wish I would have noticed earlier.

I will now give you three tips on making friends outside of your program (whether you want them or not).

1.Invite someone to lunch.

Lunch is the perfect “get to know you” setting. So don’t be afraid to ask the person that sits next to you in your Spanish class to grab a bite to eat. There are a ridiculous amount of places to eat around Veritas, so it is easy to get a quick lunch with someone and learn a little bit about them.

2.Show someone around your favorite place of San Jose

One of my favorite days here was when someone said that they hadn’t explored around downtown San Jose and asked if I would go with them. I love love love downtown, so it was awesome to get to watch someone else experience the thrills of cute corner shops, street muscians, (and almost getting lost) for the first time.

3.Get out of your program

“Well duh”, you might be thinking, but this is easier said than done. The people in your program are the people you spend most of your time with because they are the first people that you meet, the people you tour the city with, and the people that you will go on excursions with. It’s very easy to fall into a comfortable rhythm in this new place with them, but you do have classes with people in other programs. You will have plenty of chances to make friends outside of your program.

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