Gauss-Telegraph: How To… Make friends in Germany
by Hussain Nauman
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you” – Misty Copeland
Once you have planned on coming to Germany, the next question you might have is what kind of people will I meet there? You might be anticipating meeting exciting people and making new friends and are wondering how exactly to do that. While it may seem overwhelming or difficult at first, it is certainly not impossible and we will discuss how to do just that.
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit” – Aristotle
So let’s start with an obvious but very important point. Don’t be afraid to talk! You have much greater chances of making friends if you are social, outgoing and talkative. It also helps if you make the first move and approach people. One of the easiest ways to meet new people is by going to events. There are numerous events ranging from orientation, excursions, theme evenings to welcome parties. Most of the people at these events might also be new in Germany and looking for friends as well so it will be quite easy to talk to them.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also meet people in your dormitories or WG as well as at the university or in your lectures. It is not uncommon for people to live or study with others and not know them at all. However, you can use this opportunity to interact with your flatmates and colleagues since there would be many things you can talk about and you will see them on a regular basis. If they are already living here for a while then they can also be of great help in general about guiding you and through them you can meet even more friends.
We have mostly discussed how to meet people, interact and start the conversation. The next step would be to solidify the friendship. It helps a lot if you have similar interests which can lead to more meetups and doing other activities together. If you have shared interests like sports, art, music, travelling or cultural exchange etc., then you can plan another meetup or invite them to do something together relating to those interests. Even if there isn’t a specific activity to do immediately, if you get along really well with someone or a group of people, make sure to get their contact and talk afterwards and eventually you can find some joint activities to do like going out for drinks or to the cinema. Regular interaction and contact is important because if you only meet once and then don’t follow up, you can lose contact quite quickly.
Another question people generally have is, do I need to speak German to make friends? While that can certainly help, the answer is no. Many international students are already fluent in English and most German students are also quite comfortable speaking it. You can perhaps also find people who speak your native language. Even though not knowing German itself is not a barrier, it is still recommended to pick up on some German since it opens up even more opportunities. You can also participate more in group conversations that way. Even if you only have very limited German knowledge, the fact that you are trying is enough for Germans to appreciate your effort and they will try to encourage you and help you. That itself could also lead to friendship. You can also participate in language tandem or ‘Sprachenstammtisch’ where you can find people interested in language exchange. It’s also a great way to improve your German while making friends in the process.
So, these were some suggestions on how to start your social circle in Germany. Hopefully you meet some amazing people and make long term friendships. Do not hesitate to be open and get out and socialize. Even if sometimes it might be outside your comfort zone, in the end it’s the people you meet that make your experience here more memorable. Viel Glück (Good luck!)