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Should I Study Abroad Alone or Go With a Friend?


College is often the first time many students are out on their own, forging friendships with other students that can become almost like family. Because of this, it can be understandable that some are on the fence about doing a study abroad or international internship program alone or consider holding off applying until a friend is available to go with them. 

Obviously the more the merrier, but we recommend that you study abroad when it’s convenient for you. Chances are you’ll forge new friendships that will last a lifetime once abroad! 

Chase, an AIFS Abroad student in Barcelona, Spain, talks about doing his study abroad program alone.

We get it. Trying a new experience, like a study abroad program, alone is daunting.

Traveling to a new country and immersing yourself in a new culture can be a little overwhelming! There’s so much that’s unfamiliar: language, food, customs, geography. And to go without the one thing tethering you to time and space at this age, your friends? It can feel scary!

But don’t forget — you’ve done this before. 

Remember freshman year? When you arrived on campus (likely without knowing anyone) and thought you’d never make friends, but you did in the end because you’re you? You can do that again!

The reality is that the majority of our students don’t know anyone on their study abroad or internship program before applying.

Yup! Total strangers have been coming together to study abroad for decades. And we would know, AIFS Abroad has been helping young people go abroad since 1964.

Jenna, an AIFS Abroad student in Rome, Italy, talks about doing her study abroad program alone.

But it works out because you and the other students on your program will all be in the same boat. 

People tend to gravitate towards others with like interests or personality traits, so because you all decided to study abroad, you’ve got something in common from the start. There will also likely be a smaller pool of people to make friends with than what you’re used to on campus, and that’s the beauty of it! When in a small group, it’s much easier to get to know someone you wouldn’t otherwise engage with on the quad. 

Plus, there’s so much to do upon arrival that you’re bound to make fast friends. 

Whether it’s through program-led activities and excursions or acclimating to life in your study abroad housing, you’ll likely find that it’s easy to develop friendships quickly once you’re overseas. You’ll be planning weekend trips and after-class adventures before you know it! 

Pro-tip: Did you know all AIFS Abroad programs include group cultural and social activities, as well as day trips and excursions, that students can take part in?  

Don’t take our word for it! Here are some testimonials from our students who experienced this first-hand: 

“Everyone studying abroad is just like you. They want to make friends and get to know people from all over, too.” — Lea, AIFS Abroad in Barcelona, Spain alum 

Victoria, an AIFS Abroad student in Valencia, Spain, talks about doing her study abroad program alone.

“At the end of the day (or semester), you have every single person in your [study abroad] friend group to thank for making the experience unforgettable.”— Mikayla, AIFS Abroad in London, England alum 

“Had I chosen to study abroad with friends from home, I would’ve never branched out the way I did. I met some amazing people that I still talk to today (one year after studying abroad!). You will never forget the memories you created with the friends from your study abroad experience.” — Catherine, AIFS Abroad in Rome, Italy alum 

“It’s not hard to connect with people in this environment because people are inherently similar. When we started our trip, everyone was in the same situation. We arrived feeling vulnerable and a little scared, and we wanted to be accepted by our peers. We were all looking to make friends abroad, and that is exactly what we did.” — Grace, AIFS Abroad in Seville, Spain alum 

“If I could give any advice to someone going abroad it would be to not overthink being alone and to not worry about making friends.” — Brianna, AIFS Abroad in Madrid, Spain alum 

Whether alone or with a friend, doing a study abroad program is a fantastic experience that will result in lasting new friendships that will likely continue even after you return home. 

While you’re a long way from home and family, you might be worried you don’t have people to care for you or support you, but chances are you will — you just haven’t met them yet. Choosing a study abroad or international internship program with AIFS Abroad can help you do so.

Pin image: Young woman traveling alone in Berlin, Germany with text overlay "should i study abroad alone or with a friend?"

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