I saw this note the other day on the notice board, which is full of ads. “Selling bed”, “offer a room” or “English lessons”, such offers overflow the board and the foreign student’s note seem to diappear. It’s not that easy when you’re a stranger in a city.
“Hilfe, ich bin neu in der Stadt. Wer möchte mich kennenlernen?”
Of course, it’s not just German friends you’re looking for. At events of other foreign students you will find a lot of people who are often just as lonely and looking for a nice friend. But there are also many foreign students who want German friends. Especially for learning the language or building up a circle of friends, you should make friends with native students. An early investment in establishing contacts is particularly worthwhile if you want to stay in Germany for a long time.
So here are a few good ideas that make it easier to get in touch with people in Germany and take the trouble out of getting to know new people.
For foreign students: ways to build friendships
The German language
In order to be truly integrated, you have to speak the language. A language course is the first way to get to know people. This can be done at adult education centres, universities or on the Internet. You choose a tandem partner, you teach him or her your own mother tongue and – in exchange – you can practice speaking in German. Such partnerships work according to the win-win principle and are free of charge. It has advantages for both because they both want to learn a language, and both of them can have fun with it.
Moving into a shared flat
A shared flat is the optimal way to get in touch with each other. In a small group it is easier to socialize, conversations in the corridor and kitchen or living room are uncomplicated and each person can get involved with the other. You get to know different cultures. Often, such flat-sharing friendships also last for the whole life, once you have found the right community. It is then also easier to borrow something or just go for a beer. In the shared flat you can also connect to other groups. The neighbor’s buddy comes by or her/his mom brings a cake. The advantage of a flat-sharing community is the simple and loose interaction, which promotes a good friendship.
Everybody’s hungry by noon. The cafeteria is a cheap place to come to a meal and is also quite straightforward. You simply sit down at a table to a person and with a smile and a small question, a conversation may have already started: for example, how the food tastes. Or the weather. In Germany, the weather is an uncomplicated topic to talk about, if you can’t talk about anything else. But you can also combine it with sports, a walk or whatever comes to mind. The meetings in the cafeteria will probably not be very deep and might be very long. It is rather temporary, fleeting, but also recommendable to get an impression of German society.
Before and after your classes
You can get used to coming to the courses and lectures early on, and stay for a while afterwards. This sometimes leads to discussions about the content of lectures or other topics. Whoever hurries into the lecture at the last moment does not use the conversation and networking among colleagues here.
Participating in social gatherings.
Social Gatherings provide opportunities for everything. Admittedly, this is actually a bit rude “to join a foreign group spontaneously”. Maybe you’re interfering in an important discussion.
But as a foreign student, you will find many groups of students on campus. If you find people in the park or on the campus, just be open for a short chat. This often results in topics such as great parties, sports get-togethers and study issues.
By the way, you can easily spot some bored students because they are standing around smoking. Admittedly, smoking is not healthy and seriously damages your health! Nevertheless, it is possible to have a conversation with people who are smoking right at that moment. Most of the time, people have nothing else to do at this moment but just smoke!
By the way: You don’t have to smoke to talk to a smoker. 🙂
Events and Adventure
Going to pubs
It’s best to go to a pub with a friend, but to sit down at the bar and not at a table. The bar is more communicative and allows you to get to know each other while sitting at a table isolates you from the crowd.
Many dormitories and students throw parties again and again. Birthday parties, apartment partys, semester start parties, end of term parties or just end of the week parties and much more. At parties, you can communicate and get to know people in an informal way. Here it often turns out that telephone numbers are exchanged or emails, or the person is asked to be a friend on Facebook.
However, it is actually quite easy to make contacts, you just have to be willed and open. Friendliness and a pleasant appearance help to gain a foothold in Germany.
Participate in events: Apps and Facebook might help you
Nowadays it is easy to keep up to date by installing various apps. Groups are formed spontaneously, if somebody wants to do something or meet somewhere. Here it is advisable to google on the internet, what is offered in the city. Common interests are usually a good basis for friendships and offer interesting topics for conversations.
Excursions for students
Excursions are perfect for getting to know each other. Whether they last one day or longer, here you meet other students with similar interests. The length of the excursion itself, travelling and dining with each other are enough to create an atmosphere for conversation. What has been experienced also connects and creates nice memories. Students are usually open-minded people who try to come into contact with different cultures. So getting to know each other through an excursion is highly recommended.
Public Viewing – Football
Germany is a obsessed with soccer. Both men and women are supporters of some team and enthusiastic fans. However, watching is not only done at home in front of the television, but above all in public. So one way to socialize is to watch a football game in a pub with others. During the break, before and after the break, conversations simply take place. The extent to which these conversations become deeper or only remain very superficial depends on the pub audience, which can be very different. Here it also depends on the district in which you are in. Is it a student district, a culturally mixed or a rather civic district? Different areas may feature very different people and football fans.