By Jennifer Rieck
Meeting new people and making friends can be one of the most challenging parts of an experience abroad but also one of the most memorable. Here are a few ice-breakers to get you started when meeting someone for the first time.
Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I’m from Italy
Why: Asking someone about their home will make them feel comforted and at ease, especially since this could be their first time abroad and they might feel homesick. Also it will give you a good understanding of what kind of interests he/she has – growing up in a big city is very different from a small town in the countryside, for example. Thirdly, if you have visited his/her country, you might want to mention what you liked about it and what you did there.
Question: What do you think about England?
Answer: I’m really enjoying myself/ I’m feeling a little homesick.
Why: It is important to know how someone is feeling. If they are positive about living abroad then you might want to ask what they like most about the experience. However, maybe he/she isn’t having a great time and you could try and comfort them by inviting them to spend time with you and some other friends.
Question: What do you like doing in your free time?
Answer: I like cooking/playing the guitar/spending time with friends…
Why: Learning about a person’s hobbies are a great way to get to know them and if you enjoy spending time in the same ways. If you discover that you have things in common you can invite them to meet up and practise your interests together. If, on the other hand, that person has different interests from you, you could ask them more about it, you might learn something new yourself!
Question: What did you do before moving abroad?
Answer: I was a student
Why: This is a good starter question as it allows them to begin speaking about a subject they are sure of and it makes room for many more questions to be asked. For example ‘What did you study?’ Or ‘Where did you work?’ It could also give you the opportunity to talk about your own past study or work experiences.
Question: Do you speak another language?
Answer: Yes, my mother is from France and my father is from Italy. I’m bilingual!
Why: Knowing about a person’s cultural background can be very interesting and could lead to a great number of other questions like ‘What is your favourite language to speak and why?’ Or ‘Which language do you speak most at home?’
Question: What kind of music do you like?
Answer: I usually listen to pop music, but I like many kinds of music.
Why: Nearly everyone likes music and it can be a great thing to bond over. If you find that they like the same music as you, you can talk about your favourite songs and bands. Since music is also very sociable you could invite them to a concert where you could get to know each other better in a relaxed atmosphere.
Starting a conversation with someone you don’t know can be daunting but, don’t forget, it is also an opportunity for learning, for growing and for friendship.