You are new in town, there is no one to hang out with; reading that book isn’t an attractive prospect at the moment, all of a sudden your room seems much smaller and you are getting bored to death. The excitement of the past few days seem a distant memory and Netflix won’t even do the trick. Sound familiar? Yes, I thought so too. Maybe this was you, in the not-too-distant past but not any longer, or, this will be you in the next few months (actually I hope not because that’s why I wrote this).
Studying abroad is always a pleasant prospect and you soon get carried away as you bask in the euphoria of living the fantasy of your blissful future in dear Copenhagen. There is nothing wrong in that, except that the one thing you probably haven’t given much thought to, is that you will be leaving your entire social circle behind and will have to build a new one when you move (except you are a total hermit and can’t be bothered with such trivialities). Let’s face it! It’s not a given that you will automatically make new pals immediately when you move to Copenhagen. In fact, if you thought that it will be easy, be ready to get disappointed. Why??? Well, let’s just put it this way. Danes are not exactly known for their friend-making prowess. This means that in your quest to build a new social circle, you need to build bridges with both fellow international and Danish students. What’s more? The onus is on you to make it happen. But how??? Relax….this is the part where I get to be the hero, by pointing you in the right direction.
Attend the Welcome Programme
This is especially important if you are about to commence your studies in Copenhagen. Many, if not all faculties do organize welcome/orientation programmes for new international students, and attending this is the easiest way to start off with meeting and making new friends in Copenhagen. Among other things, you get to meet new students like you and begin to create those bonds of friendship which are so important. In all likelihood, the friends you make during the welcome programme are the ones you will have in the early stages of your stay in Copenhagen and who knows, maybe even for all time. This is especially true in my case, as many of my present friends are those I got to meet during this programme, and other students that I know have said the same.
Go to the Friday bars
You probably have heard that an average Dane is more likely to have a conversation with you while enjoying some beer than at any other time. Apparently, in Denmark, there is something in the beer that loosens the tongue of many Danes, making them willing to tell you almost anything and get super-friendly (yea, maybe I have exaggerated it a teeny tiny bit). This is something you will do well to take advantage of, and what better place to explore this than at the Friday bars in the university? Your Danish colleagues are more likely to go to the Friday bar after classes on a Friday than any other place, so without having to make an appointment (yes, many Danes have a sacrosanct time schedule), you can chat over a drink with your Danish colleagues, exchange numbers, connect on Facebook and maybe even later-on get to become friends. One gesture that should work as a charm is to buy that person a drink. There isn’t much of a giving culture in Denmark so that gesture of paying for someone else’s drink means a lot and will go a long way in smoothening the path to making Danish friends.
Be friends with your mentor
You probably haven’t thought about it that way, but by being in a mentor group, you already have a prospective friend in Copenhagen ever before you arrive, who may or may not be Danish. Just in case you don’t know what I am talking about, the University of Copenhagen has a mentor program which makes it possible to have a particular student assigned to you to help ease you into settling down in Copenhagen after your arrival and deal with the associated practicalities. I recently spoke with a colleague who told me that his only friend for many weeks after arriving in Copenhagen was his mentor, and that made me wonder how he would have coped had he not had one. So, my advice to you is that even if you aren’t very good at making friends, you should try to hangout and become friends with your mentor because it is highly unlikely that he/she won’t be open to it.
Join a group
One of the many awesome things about Copenhagen is that no matter what your hobby is, there is always a group that’s organized for people like you. From different sport activities, to yoga, dancing, whatever it is, you will always find something. All you have to do is get online and search, so your next new pals may just be a mouse click or a registration form away. As I am all for killing two birds with one stone, I will especially recommend that you register for language classes to learn Danish (more on this in future posts). Yes, it might be a difficult language but at least, you get to meet and make new friends who are as unknowledgeable as you. What’s not to like?
If none of the above seems to cut it for you, then maybe what you need is to go to church, as there, you don’t even need to make much effort to make friends. It’s more likely that you will end up having too many (winks).
Copenhagen is a lovely city, so do yourself a favor and enjoy it with some friends.
Until next time: Vis ses!