The Guide to Making International Friends
Admit it, we are living in the era of globalization where you can see foreign brands, products, and even the people anywhere you go. Tourists can travel from one place to other places so much easier than it was done one century ago.
Besides the easiness of the transportation system and information access that has been gradually becoming even easier and faster, our intercultural communication would not be complete without language skill.
Let's say, you have got the language skill and you are ready to go out and make some new friends. Do you think that it will be that easy to just approach someone and talk in his/ her language? The reality is, in fact, not that easy.
I have been living in an international society for about 10 years. People in my surroundings come from various countries and have various native languages. I found out that this kind of friendship is somehow unique and beneficial in terms of self-development.
Where to find?If you are living in an international city, you are one of the luckiest people on earth. You have the biggest language classroom ever. Just go out and talk to people in various languages or join social meetups to make new friends. When there are more foreigners in a city, there are more opportunities that these foreigners will join the meetups.
However, if you don't live in an international city, don't worry as long as you have a good internet connection. What I mean by a good internet connection is that it won't break down every once in a while. There are Skype groups, Facebook groups, or language learning apps, like Tandem, HelloTalk or Speaky that you can use to know people from various countries.
Once you know a new international friend, what to do next?
Tips and Tricks
1. Be TolerantHaving an international friend means that you will be communicating with someone from a different background with you, it could be a different religion, lifestyle, political views, etc. You need to be more tolerant than before and have an open mind. Be prepared to face different opinions. Keep in mind that your goal is to build a friendship. Try to accept differences, see it as an advantage, as something that you can learn from.
2. Be PoliteAn argument could happen because of your different backgrounds, and remember that you need to be polite in any given situations. If you are impolite, you are certainly wrong, and you could make things worse. Things that are normal or widely accepted for you may not be the same for others. For instance, telling your international friend that he/ she is wrong in a direct manner may not be accepted in some cultures. So, think twice before you act.
3. Learn as much as possible
Here is a good thing about having an international friend. You have someone to supply you with information that you would not have without the help of a foreigner. I know that you can search it on the internet but the internet is a machine, it is still better to have someone to help. Take this opportunity to learn as much as possible about your friend's country, culture, customs or even, the political situations. For example, in a Skype English group that I join, someone from Indonesia asked about the cosmetic surgery to a Korean. In this way, she got the information directly from someone of that country, so the information is, somehow, more reliable.
4. Learn more languages
I know that you already can talk to people from many countries by English but think again, if you could speak more languages, you could talk with even more people from various countries. You can start by learning the language(s) of your international friend, then from there, get to know more people that speak the same language or switch to learning another language.
5. Treat them as you would treat your people
What I mean here is everyone is a human being just like you and me. We are born with different skin colors, having different types of hair, etc., so never ever observe someone that looks different from you like you are observing something in the museum. It may hurt their feeling. You may have lots of question about it but it may be sensitive for some, so always ask for permission or say sorry in advance. It is better to be extra polite rather than impolite.