The Student Room Group

Tips for living/studying abroad with no friends

I (20f) am a UK uni student and I'm going to be studying abroad in France next academic year. I know I won't have any friends there because I don't have any friends at home/uni and never have. I'm friendly with people but I just don't click with them. If you asked my fellow students/housemates/coworkers what they think of me, they would most likely say that I am nice enough but they have no desire to be friends with me or interact with me beyond work/uni related matters. And I'm at the point of moving towards accepting that rather than continuing to try and make friendships/relationships with others due to the strain it puts on my mental health to find constant humiliation/rejection in social settings (not blaming anyone else, just explaining why I've chosen to accept rather than change my situation).

But I'm slightly worried about how it will impact my mental health to go from having friendly conversations with acquaintances here and speaking in an academic context (my uni has tutorials with groups of 2/3 students so you have to speak quite a lot in those) to probably not physically speaking to another person for the entire year and for people's reactions to be anything from completely ignoring me to outright being rude to me. I went to a dinner with some of the French exchange students who are here this year and the entire time it was them completely ignoring me and talking in French about how we (the people in my class) hardly spoke French and our accents were painful to listen to. I understand/read French at fluent level but I speak with a strong English accent and know that will cause problems with people either genuinely not being able to understand me or deliberately being rude about it.

Most people who study abroad have a strong network of friends both at home and in their abroad uni who can support them when things are tough/demoralising and I'm worried about how it will affect me to not have that and basically be completely alone in a country where it's much more difficult for me to communicate. I'm also a woman and struggle with anxiety (not diagnosed/anxiety disorder, just general social anxiety) so doing things/going on nights out alone isn't really an accessible option for me.
Reply 1
Forgot to mention that I'm looking for mental health/coping tips not tips for making friends lol
Original post by Anonymous
I (20f) am a UK uni student and I'm going to be studying abroad in France next academic year. I know I won't have any friends there because I don't have any friends at home/uni and never have. I'm friendly with people but I just don't click with them. If you asked my fellow students/housemates/coworkers what they think of me, they would most likely say that I am nice enough but they have no desire to be friends with me or interact with me beyond work/uni related matters. And I'm at the point of moving towards accepting that rather than continuing to try and make friendships/relationships with others due to the strain it puts on my mental health to find constant humiliation/rejection in social settings (not blaming anyone else, just explaining why I've chosen to accept rather than change my situation).
But I'm slightly worried about how it will impact my mental health to go from having friendly conversations with acquaintances here and speaking in an academic context (my uni has tutorials with groups of 2/3 students so you have to speak quite a lot in those) to probably not physically speaking to another person for the entire year and for people's reactions to be anything from completely ignoring me to outright being rude to me. I went to a dinner with some of the French exchange students who are here this year and the entire time it was them completely ignoring me and talking in French about how we (the people in my class) hardly spoke French and our accents were painful to listen to. I understand/read French at fluent level but I speak with a strong English accent and know that will cause problems with people either genuinely not being able to understand me or deliberately being rude about it.
Most people who study abroad have a strong network of friends both at home and in their abroad uni who can support them when things are tough/demoralising and I'm worried about how it will affect me to not have that and basically be completely alone in a country where it's much more difficult for me to communicate. I'm also a woman and struggle with anxiety (not diagnosed/anxiety disorder, just general social anxiety) so doing things/going on nights out alone isn't really an accessible option for me.

Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear that you are having a bit of a rough time at university and feel as if you have no friends/no one would like to be friends with you. Have you tried joining a sports or society? This can be a great way to meet new people and others than just your housemates or coursemates. It is also a great way to meet people who have similar interests to you which can be an easy icebreaker into friendships.

I would say that when you are studying abroad it is really important to get involve and stuck in to different sports/societies especially as it will give you something to do and a way to socialise with people regularly. This will help with your mental health as well as it gives you something to do and look forward to other than possibly sitting in your room by yourself. I would also say that it is important to keep in regular contact with family and friends whilst your abroad and be honest with them on how you are feeling and if you are struggling let them know. This will help with your mental health as well as it will mean that you are not keeping your feelings to yourself but talking about them.

Whilst abroad defiantly do things which you enjoy but also talk to people and don't keep your feelings to yourself. I hope you have a good time with your year abroad and I hope this helps 😊.

Katie - Student Ambassador
Reply 3
Original post by YSJstudents
Hi there,
I'm sorry to hear that you are having a bit of a rough time at university and feel as if you have no friends/no one would like to be friends with you. Have you tried joining a sports or society? This can be a great way to meet new people and others than just your housemates or coursemates. It is also a great way to meet people who have similar interests to you which can be an easy icebreaker into friendships.
I would say that when you are studying abroad it is really important to get involve and stuck in to different sports/societies especially as it will give you something to do and a way to socialise with people regularly. This will help with your mental health as well as it gives you something to do and look forward to other than possibly sitting in your room by yourself. I would also say that it is important to keep in regular contact with family and friends whilst your abroad and be honest with them on how you are feeling and if you are struggling let them know. This will help with your mental health as well as it will mean that you are not keeping your feelings to yourself but talking about them.
Whilst abroad defiantly do things which you enjoy but also talk to people and don't keep your feelings to yourself. I hope you have a good time with your year abroad and I hope this helps 😊.
Katie - Student Ambassador
Explicitly said in the post that I was looking for mental health tips not tips for making friends but I get that student ambassadors have to post the copy and paste “motivational” replies which is why their responses tend to be extremely cliche and unhelpful
Original post by Anonymous
I (20f) am a UK uni student and I'm going to be studying abroad in France next academic year. I know I won't have any friends there because I don't have any friends at home/uni and never have. I'm friendly with people but I just don't click with them. If you asked my fellow students/housemates/coworkers what they think of me, they would most likely say that I am nice enough but they have no desire to be friends with me or interact with me beyond work/uni related matters. And I'm at the point of moving towards accepting that rather than continuing to try and make friendships/relationships with others due to the strain it puts on my mental health to find constant humiliation/rejection in social settings (not blaming anyone else, just explaining why I've chosen to accept rather than change my situation).
But I'm slightly worried about how it will impact my mental health to go from having friendly conversations with acquaintances here and speaking in an academic context (my uni has tutorials with groups of 2/3 students so you have to speak quite a lot in those) to probably not physically speaking to another person for the entire year and for people's reactions to be anything from completely ignoring me to outright being rude to me. I went to a dinner with some of the French exchange students who are here this year and the entire time it was them completely ignoring me and talking in French about how we (the people in my class) hardly spoke French and our accents were painful to listen to. I understand/read French at fluent level but I speak with a strong English accent and know that will cause problems with people either genuinely not being able to understand me or deliberately being rude about it.
Most people who study abroad have a strong network of friends both at home and in their abroad uni who can support them when things are tough/demoralising and I'm worried about how it will affect me to not have that and basically be completely alone in a country where it's much more difficult for me to communicate. I'm also a woman and struggle with anxiety (not diagnosed/anxiety disorder, just general social anxiety) so doing things/going on nights out alone isn't really an accessible option for me.

Hiya 😊

What is your study abroad experience going to be like? Will you be attending a French uni or is it something different? You might not make friends while you're there, but hopefully if you're on a course there should be people to have that polite/friendly interaction even if it's just academically related.

Please don't feel like you have to go the whole year without talking to anyone, even if your accent isn't the best! You're fluent in your understanding and living in the country for a year your accent will improve, you just gotta try, despite the eye-rolls from the baristas lol.

These aren't tips on how to make friends, but things that helped me when I lived alone away from home. I also suffer with depression and anxiety so these things require a concerted effort but are beneficial in the long run:

Find a nice café and become a 'regular':
I value comfort and good coffee, so I always like to find somewhere in a new place where I can while away an hour or two, people-watching with a book. The more you go, the less daunting it feels to be on your own.

Be a tourist:
Make the most of your time there, do some sightseeing, join a guided tour, visit amazing museums, experience the culture. When you live somewhere it can get boring, because the tourist stuff seems cringe but who cares! The only person you've got to worry about having a good time is you.

Nurture your hobbies:
Whether it's art, making things, meditation, plants, running, reading, writing, cooking.. have something you enjoy that can enrich your life and fill your time.

Have a routine:
Find things to do in your free time so you're not just stuck indoors doom-scrolling. That doesn't mean loads of overwhelming activities, unless that's your thing! It can be as simple as having a shower at the same time each day, getting out to go to the library to study when you don't have classes, grocery shopping and meal prep, etc

Gym or Swim:
This is part of the routine, and a mental health booster. Invest in a membership or pay as you go at least once a week. It's a work-out for the mind as well as the body, just got to make yourself get out there. If you go regularly enough you'll start to see familiar faces and can have that casual interaction if you want to. Check out swimming timetables as some places offer a 'ladies only' hour that can help if you're feeling anxious about going on your own. The sheer confidence of middle aged women can rub off on you 😂

Vitamins:
Eat well, look after yourself, get out in the sunshine.

Talk to other non-native speakers:
Yes you might get some judgement from your French peers, so seek out others like you. I had the best laughs with people from different countries, teaching each other inappropriate phrases and sharing stories about other cultures.

Call home:
If you have a good relationship with your family (I'm aware not everyone does) then keep in touch. It can be hard to keep up with messaging but a video call every so often will help to keep you grounded and feel less alone.


Best of luck on your year abroad, it will be such a great life experience!

Best wishes,
Essex Student Rep - Hayley
Agree with everything Essex student rep said. My son was in the same situation. He’s quite happy to be independent but everyone needs some social interaction. He joined a mooting team abroad which helped a lot because he had to work closely with people during evenings etc. He also joined people in the library to study and chat as well as a football team. He made sure that in his free time he had a plan to see things and would travel from the Netherlands to Germany or Brussels to explore by himself. Lots of students do this by the way. He’s currently doing an internship abroad and has invited some other interns to the pub to watch football but he also takes a book to the cafe and just soaks up the atmosphere and people watch.
Best of luck.
Original post by Anonymous
Explicitly said in the post that I was looking for mental health tips not tips for making friends but I get that student ambassadors have to post the copy and paste “motivational” replies which is why their responses tend to be extremely cliche and unhelpful

Sorry I think I just did the same but to be honest the points I made are specifically about how my son maintained his mental health while in the same situation as you.

Quick Reply