I am trying very hard to be open to making friends and meeting people wherever it may happen. One thing that I am learning here is the Americans are very friendly. People are always smiling at me. I have found that if I return the smile, it can lead to little conversations. Much of my day can be made up of these little conversations. I think this is a great start. It helps me practice my American English, which is different than what I learned at school, and also is just a good way to keep kindness in my day.
I am trying to keep an eye out for others who might be lonely. There is a male student who is always getting a coffee just ahead of me at the café before my chemistry class. He always sits down near the window with a book. One day when the class was cancelled, I went back to the café and asked if I could sit at the table with him since the café was fairly crowded. He said it was fine and actually put the book away. We talked a little about how our days were going and what he was reading. It turned out to be a book series that I am a little familiar with as well, so now whenever we see each other we have something to talk about. I am not sure if it will develop into anything but it is nice.
Another thing that I am attempting is extracurriculars. I have been looking for clubs to join, academic and interest based. So far I have not had as much luck with the interest based groups, but I did join a premed association here at school that has allowed me to meet many people. I have classes with some of them, and that was helpful too. I do not feel so much like I am one person in a sea of people I don’t know when I sit down to hear lectures anymore—I walk in and suddenly it becomes, there is Chris, and there is an empty seat next to Angie. I’ll say hi to him and then sit next to her. Slowly I am becoming more comfortable with the people in the association and we are starting to talk about plans outside of studying and academia, so there is potential there.
I also found a group online through Meetup.com that does volunteer work. It gives my spirit a boost to help others, and I can go as my schedule allows. I am exploring more of my host city and meeting people from all backgrounds. It has been very good for me. Sometimes, small groups of us will go out to eat after we are done with our volunteer work. That is my favorite part. Usually, there are between five and seven of us, a good size amount of people. Not too many but enough that it feels like there is always someone to talk to.
Whenever the large classes are broken down into smaller groups, I try to socialize with my group members by finding out their names and where they are from. Then the next time I see them, I am able to greet them by name. People seem to appreciate that very much. I have made several acquaintances that way and have noticed people are starting to remember my name as well.