I am on an exchange program in Australia, going to be here for 1 semester only.
I will describe myself as shy and have sosial anxity.
I have been kinda low lately, because I have been here for about 3 weeks now, and I do not know anybody.
I am afraid that my excahnge program will be waste of time, I do not want to finnish an exchange program with ok grades and no new friends and contacts.
I have been on every soscial events that my school and living place has orginized, but I cannot find the courage to talk or meet people.
I do not find me as an interesting guy to talk with, since all conversation I have useually ends after "How are you?".
And my english is kinda pushing me back aswell.
I find it kinda sad that I spend now most of my time in my room. This was not how I excpected my Australia stay would be.
Do anybody have an useful tip that works for you? I kinda need more than "Just talk" since I have really tried it.
Re: Finding friends!
It's completely understandable that you'd be feeling this way. I think it's amazing that you decided to and have gone on an exchange, especially to somewhere where the language isn't your native one!
I don't know where you're from and already the fact that you're on an exchange interests me! I'm sure it would interest a lot of other students at your school too.
I know it's hard coming in to a school where everyone already has their groups. I've come to a new school for yr.11 this year. I'm not the type of person who can start a bunch of conversations confidently or even likes speaking about myself, I much prefer when others are in charge of the conversation - I don't really like having to ask questions either.
Despite this, we do still have to put some sort of effort in to achieve the friendships we want. We have to face some of our fears.
The group I'm currently hanging around with, I just went up to and asked if they would mind if I hung out with them now (which was during lunch). They were more than happy to and asked me a bunch of questions.
When I'm new, a lot of me wants, and even expects, other people to be the ones to come up to me and introduce themselves. This isn't what usually happens, and when it does you then have to take the initiative to be around them again. It sounds to me like other people aren't going to be coming up to and introducing themselves anymore, so it is up to you now to place yourself in the situations.
I think when we don't know someone, 'how are you?' is not the best question to ask. More general yet specific questions are better, they can be school related like 'did you finish x?' 'can you help me with y?' 'how are you liking *subject*?' 'why did you take *subject*?'
Mentioning that you're there on exchange would likely provoke people to ask you some questions. You can talk about where you're from, why you chose Australia, how you're finding it, what you'd really like to do etc.
When talking about what you'd like to do here, you can ask them if they could help you experience Australia (or a specific thing you'd like to do here).
We've had exchange students at my schools, most people loved being able to do touristy things with them.
That your English isn't perfect can also be used to your advantage - from asking someone how to say something, to offering to teach people something from your native language.
I know, that's all talky stuff and they may not be wanted. Something you could try which doesn't require you to go up and talk to people immediately is sharing something from where you're from. You could make a type of cake for example which is popular there and hand some out to people. People will then compliment you on them, thank-you, think you're nice, ask you about them, ask about yourself etc.
Good-luck! You're feeling down now, but soon enough you'll be sad that you're leaving so quickly.
Re: Finding friends!
Welcome to Australia, and the ReachOut Forums.
I can understand you are feeling low if you have come to a new country, only to spend your time alone in your bedroom.
Your host family may not know how you are feeling and may think they are respecting your privacy by leaving you alone.
Perhaps you could watch television in the lounge room with your host family, offer to help with meal preparation and then show them some brochures about places you may wish to visit while you are here in Australia.
The local library is a good place to start to get to know your local area in a safe environment. Ask other students or your host family where it is. Your town most likely has a youth centre, and the youth workers there can also offer you information on activities in the local area. If you are active, ask your host family about the local swimming pool or gym.
Once you have started meeting people and visiting places of interest, why not start a blog or sharing your trip on facebook or twitter using photographs? This will help you stay connected with your family at home and motivate you to undertake more activities in the future.
Try to communicate to your host family how you are feeling. Is there student support through the exchange program you are using? The high school you are at will have a school counselor who also may be able to assist you.
There is a helpful forum- http://www.cultures-shocked.org/forums/forum.php that you may like to take a look out.
Becoming an exchange student is very courageous, and you should be very proud of yourself!! Attempt to tap into your inner confidence that you got you here. Smile at people, try to be approachable and even write things down if you are having trouble communicating as your written English is very good!
Hang in there and be patient, and I am sure you will end up finding the excange a most rewarding and fulfilling experience!
Re: Finding friends!
Hey there Perground... the one thing that stuck out from your post to me is that you said "I do not find me as an interesting guy to talk with". Because we all have a marvellous ability to make the things that we think about our selves come true. So if you think that you are not interesting - you will project that outwards and make sure that the conversation ends after 'how are you".
You can not always change the situation you are in but you can change the way you think about it. If you beleive that you are an interesting guy (which you will be by default because you are from another country!!) you will start to have interesting conversations. The people studying with you would love to hear about what it is like for you in your home country.... If you beleive you are interesting - you will start to become more interesting...
Here is some information about self-talk - which is the internal diaglogue we have inside about ourselves. From the sounds of it yours is very negative - but the good news is that you can change that! Even if you don't truly belive it at first. Just try and start telling yourself that you are an interesting person and see how that goes.
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Re: Finding friends!
Welcome to ReachOut!
Where are you from? Exchange programs sound very interesting, I've had an exchange student come live with me before and I just asked a lot of questions about her country. Maybe you could do the same, but the other way around, ask about our culture then maybe you could bring up yours. If that's what you want. Just ask questions, ask about school or family or even pets. I have an exchange student friend at school and asking questions works sometimes. I hope you enjoy your time here in Australia!
Re: Finding friends!
This post is a bit late but I hope you're still reading the thread- everybody has given really great advice already but I there's something I wanted to add. You said that conversations ended for you after you said, " How are you?". For me, that was a problem as well (still is sometimes) and just like you, I wondered if it was because I wasn't interesting or perhaps another reason...?
Just one thing I found has helped when I talk with people I just meet is that when I ask some sort of basic question like "What do you do?" or the like, I try to find one thing that he/she says to relate to and offer my own experiences about that topic. If I can't find anything to relate to, I usually ask them to elaborate on what they're talking about or ask them for their own opinion on the topic.
Anyways, hope your exchange experience has been a little more fulfilling after your post here and good luck.
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