The first day I got to Norway, I sat in my room alone and stared at the wall. I had no bedding. I had no cooking utensils (or food, for that matter). Most importantly, I had no friends in the country whatsoever. And I was terrified. Now, almost three months later, I have a close group of friends whom I adore, and I’m constantly meeting new people and getting to know them better. I know studying abroad can feel lonely sometimes, so I wanted to explain how I met the people that I met. 


Ashlie was the first person I met here, and I have to admit something: even though she became the key to me meeting all my other friends, I met her completely by chance. I had just arrived at Oslo airport, and my heart was beating so rapidly. I took the Flytoget (the express train from the airport to Oslo Central Station), and as I got on, I struggled to get my bag into one of the storage compartments. A girl who looked about my age noticed my struggle and helped me, and I in turn helped her with her bags. We sat down together and discovered that we were both studying abroad at the University of Oslo! She was from Denver, and she was just as terrified as I was. We went to pick up our keys, and went our separate ways. She lived in student housing in a different part of the city, but she became my first point of contact in Oslo. The takeaway here isn’t to just hope you get lucky and meet people, but that it only takes one connection to meet an entire new community!

The Group  

Ashlie introduced me to the girls in her program, Hanah and Nicolette, as well her as next door neighbor Hannah. Hannah introduced us to a friend of hers from her program, Tristan. Nicolette met Daryna in her university orientation group. Hanah and I met Lorenzo in our orientation group, and Lorenzo was flatmates with David, who incidentally is also a part of the UCEAP program. From there we had a nine-person group, known as “the family” 

We were a mismatched group who didn’t really have much in common except that we were all stranded in a new country of our own volition, and we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves. As a result, we established weekly family dinners at one of our student housing, which turned into games nights and day outings and trips to other countries and open mic nights and nights out on the town. We have shared so many laughs and jokes that have stemmed from miscommunication (English is a second language for three of us), and we have learned to appreciate a wide variety of cultural viewpoints. I’ll admit that I was anxious to spend time with the group at first. I wasn’t sure whether I fit in, and I was scared of being rejected. But what I will say is that a group of international students in a foreign country are just looking for people to enjoy spending time with them, and that’s definitely what I’ve gotten. I’ve made a bunch of friends who I will cherish long after this program is over. 

My advice to anyone worried about making friends is to just give yourself time. I’ve met people here who I’m not best friends with, and that’s completely fine. You can’t expect yourself to make a bunch of deep, lasting bonds with people you’ve just met. My friendship with everyone in the group has grown over time, and I still have so much to learn about them. We were thrown together by circumstance, but we’ve worked at getting to know each other and respecting each other’s differences. It took me a while to open up around them, but now we’re all almost worryingly comfortable around each other.  

Obviously, all the general “college rules” of making friends still apply overseas: join clubs, do activities and be open to new experiences. But I would just add that I understand the pressure of trying to make friends over the one semester you’re abroad. But you’re surrounded by people who have just as much time as you do, and they’re looking for friendship too. All it takes is one person to open your social circle. From the core group I’ve befriended Norwegians and people who aren’t international students studying abroad. It will come with patience.