How to Make Friends in Summer School

19 Dec, 2023Blog Articles, Get the Edge

What truly makes an international summer school memorable is the wide range of people you will meet. Studying abroad provides a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and build a global network of peers. It’s unlike anything you would find at home!

Some people might find this intimidating, but there’s really no reason to feel anxious. Everyone arriving at an international summer school is in the same boat, and everyone will be eager to make new friends. So you’ve got at least one thing to bond over.

Here are some top tips on how to make new friends at camp, especially for those of different nationalities travelling far away from home.

Summer school students posing for a group photo

Shared experiences


Clinical psychologist Linda Blair, in The Guardian, explains that “a shared experience” is frequently “the basis of making a friend”. This makes an international summer school the ideal place to meet and make friends. 

From our experience of seeing many diverse students arriving from all over the world to do a summer course with Oxford Scholastica, we’ve seen this first hand. When students feel passionate about their field of study, it gives them a connection to their peers. Whether it’s technology or medicine, you’ll definitely share interests with your fellow course colleagues. This will make studying abroad and making friends a lot easier.

Douw Steenkamp, an Oxford Scholastica alumnus from South Africa, says this:

“Going to classes every morning was an exciting experience as we were all on edge as to what we would learn. From classroom discussions to exploring Oxford during free time, the whole experience was unforgettable. The friendships I made will last me a lifetime.”


Make the first move


It can be intimidating approaching someone you don’t know. However, just by smiling, greeting people and showing simple good manners, you can appear friendly and approachable. It may seem obvious, but this is what most people respond well to. Use open body language and try to avoid folding your arms, frowning, or looking bored or uninterested.

Here’s a tip you might not know: use mirroring. In social settings, this means imitating someone else’s expressions or gestures to create rapport and a sense of unity. For example, if the person leans forward while talking, you can do the same. But be careful not to overdo it, or else you might get some strange looks.

A group of students making friends at summer camp

Ask questions


Because there are so many nationalities attending an international summer school, this is an ideal time to learn and find out about other cultures. There were 85 nationalities represented last year at Oxford Scholastica Academy. Questions are an excellent way to show interest in other people. They are also an easy way to initiate a conversation.

You could ask your new friends about their home city, what their school is like or about the craziest experience they’ve ever had. These are sure to be good conversation starters. Read on for more conversational tips…


Conversation starters


  • Comment on your immediate environment, or an activity that you are doing together. For example, you could say: “At least the weather is much better in Oxford.” “I love the view of the city from that window.”
  • Ask for help. Or even better, offer help. For example: “If you have a moment, please could you help me carry these books?” 
  • Use compliments. “I love your jacket.” Compliments are a great way to initiate a conversation with someone new, but always make sure they’re done in the right setting. 


Top Tip

Try to remember people’s names. This shows you were genuinely taking an interest in them. Even better, you could try to remember a detail about something they spoke about, and ask them about it the next time you see them. Good friends are the ones who take a genuine interest in each other!

international summer school students hanging out together and socializing

Extend the interaction


If you enjoy getting to know someone and you get a good feeling about a person, extend the interaction by planning to meet them again. It’s easier to lock down a specific arrangement than to say something general. So you could suggest a time and place that you want to hang out with them. For example: “It was great to meet you – why don’t we have dinner together tomorrow evening?”

Lastly, here’s a practical tip. To make new friends at your summer camp this year, don’t spend a lot of time in your room. It might be relaxing, but you won’t make any friends there. Instead, get out and about! Challenge yourself to do something new. You never know where you’ll meet someone new! 


The Oxford Scholastica Academy offers accredited Oxford summer courses for 12-18 year olds in the beautiful and ancient city of Oxford, a major drawcard for a summer course abroad. This summer, you can enjoy a stimulating course that prepares you for future study and careers, while making friends that will last a lifetime.


Next Steps for Students Looking to Study Abroad


Ready to meet some new friends in Oxford?

Get in touch with our team if you have any questions, and book your place with Oxford Scholastica today! We can’t wait to meet you.