One of the best parts of CIEE High School USA is making American friends. Bonding with people from another culture can be a profound experience. In fact, the friendships you make in the U.S. are likely to last long after your program.
We are here with tips and advice we hope will make it easier to develop these relationships with your host family, classmates, and the people in your host community.
Bonding With Your Host Family
- The great part about living with a host family is that close relationships are practically built into the experience. When you live with people, you get to know them!
- Participate in family meals and activities, even (and especially!) if you feel homesick.
- Try not to be shy or overly quiet, even if you feel nervous about speaking in English. Your host family will be excited to learn about you, your country, and your culture. More important, they will glad to help you improve your English skills!
- Share special events or holidays from your home country with your host family. This is a great way for you to connect and for them to learn more about you.
- Say yes when opportunities to spend time with your host family arise. Even if it is just an opportunity to visit a store or run errands! The more time you spend with your host family, the faster you will bond.
- Get to know every member of your host family individually. Plan a day to spend with them. Visit the park, take a walk, play a game, or just have a conversation.
- Remember to ask (and answer) questions! Being curious is one of the best ways to get to know people.
Making Friends at School
- Join an activity, club, or sport. Every year, our participants say this is the single best way to make friends at school. (If your school does not offer the specific club or sport you were hoping to join, try something new!) This is a great and easy way to find people with common interests.
- If you have a host sibling that attends your school, ask to be introduced to their friends.
- Be outgoing and assertive in your classes, during lunch, etc. The more you put yourself out there, the more people you will meet.
- Sign up for your school’s mentoring program. If you need help doing this, ask your Local Coordinator or your school’s guidance counselor.
- Look for other students who are sitting, eating, or hanging out alone. Ask if you can join them! Reaching out may feel awkward, but it is a great way to make friends.
- Invite classmates over to your house after school or during the weekend to hang out or study. Be sure to ask your host family for permission first.
If You Have Trouble Making Friends
- Understand that it may take time before you develop strong friendships with other students.
- Resist the urge to stop trying or to seek comfort of family and friends back home. Talk with your host family, your Local Coordinator, your teachers, and/or your guidance counselor. Ask about opportunities to get involved in activities, sports, clubs, or other social activities.
- Ask your host family if they have family friends you can meet.
- Sign up for something you have never tried before; you never know who you might meet.
- Start volunteering for an organization you believe in. You’ll find like-minded people!