On top of having to adjust to a new home, culture, and university classes, many international students coming to UAlberta worry about making friends. Here at UAlberta, however, you’ll find yourself with so many options and opportunities to get to know your fellow UAlberta classmates. We've created a list of the many different ways you will be able to make new friends at your new university:
1. Social Media
Social Media allows you to connect with people all over the world very easily and it makes for a great way to meet people before you even start university classes! Here at University of Alberta International, we stay very active on all our social media channels (such as Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Google +, etc..) so that we can get to know our future UAlberta students better, but these groups also allow international students to connect before they come to Canada. Also once you do get here you’ll see that Facebook groups for anything from study groups to weekend travel groups will start cropping up – all you have to do is join. You can even make your own social media group to connect with other international students coming to UAlberta and social media will allow you to easily find someone from your pervious schools who is also going to the University of Alberta.
2. Go to Orientations
On this blog we’ve talked a lot about Transitions, the University of Alberta’s Orientation for first time international students on campus. You can read about why attending transitions is so important here but we’ll also just mention why you should go to orientation events in general.
Your first year at UAlberta is when you are going to meet a lot of the people that will end up being your friends throughout your university career and beyond. After your first year you’ll find that you’ll start getting really busy and if you haven’t already established a habit of going out and meeting new people then you’ll find it harder to do that in your second, third, fourth plus years to get out of your room and explore! So make sure that your first few months at your new campus are spent exploring and making new friends – which is what Orientation at UAlberta is for!
You will make a lot friends in your Faculty, which will be great, but it’s also great to have friends outside your Faculty! You can easily make lots of unique and interesting friends by joining a student group where other students with similar interest to yours meet. At the University of Alberta you can find student groups focusing on just about anything. No matter what your interest – there is a group that is right for you :)
One really popular student group and volunteer opportunity is the University of Alberta International Student Bridges program. Watch the video below to find out more!
The International Student’s Association is relatively new, but it aims to advocate for International Student concerns on campus through its elected board. I’d recommend getting in touch with them and finding out when they will be hosting their next events and meet ups – this way you’ll get to meet International Students that are committed to making a difference on campus while also getting a chance to do the same thing yourself!
5. Take Classes outside your Faculty
The class structure here at the University of Alberta allows students to make their schedule. While each major and minor have their own specific courses that are required, you will get a chance to take courses outside your Faculty – and you should. I studied business at UAlberta and while I did have a lot of required courses to take I made sure to keep my options open to courses outside the business faculty. This allowed me to learn about other things that interested me (like German and Scottish History) while also meeting great people outside my program who ended up being really great friends. Don’t stay in a faculty bubble – EXPLORE!
6. Join a group outside UAlberta
In this blog we talk a lot about all the great things you can do on campus but in order to get a truly well-rounded “Edmonton Experience” you have to become a part of the community outside campus. So volunteer for an event like the Edmonton International Film Festival or Western Canada Fashion Week, volunteer with an organization the reflects your interest like the Art Gallery of Alberta, a Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, or the Edmonton Public Library and more. Volunteering in the community allows you to gain valuable connections outside just your classmates and university people, as well as gives you a chance to gain valuable work experience – and win-win!
By: Nathalie Batres