Moving to a new place is always difficult. You are not familiar with the city, have no idea where anything is located or where you need to go, and you don’t have any friends just yet. Such a transition can be especially stressful for international students who come to the U.S. for the first time. Adjusting to the new culture can be quite challenging (especially during your first semester), and it usually takes some time. Typically, making friends with American people really helps with the transition, because your American friends can introduce you to their culture and the American way of living. But…how do you make friends with Americans in the first place? Surely, not all of us are lucky enough to be born with the natural talent of making friends easily. However, all of us international students here at Purdue are lucky to have the opportunity to participate in the International Friendship Program, or IFP, during our first semester in West Lafayette!
IFP helps new international students and scholars connect with the community by matching them with a local host or host family. The friendships that are formed as a result of such pairings help new students and scholars adjust to the new culture, and make their transition to living in Greater Lafayette area easier. All you need to do is sign up for the program, and then your IFP host will contact you to arrange some fun activities for you to do together approximately once a month.
Personally, I did my undergrad studies in the States, so I wasn’t new to the U.S. when I came to Purdue; however, I was new to Indiana and West Lafayette. Being paired with my IFP host, Linda, has really helped me during my first semester at Purdue. She has invited me to participate in a number of really fun activities organized by her church.
We went to the Fall Festival and screening of the movie Hidden Figures, saw a performance of A Christmas Carol and attended a Purdue Women’s Tennis team match. Linda connected me with many Russian-speaking students, as well as some Russian-speaking professors (it turned out that she had spent several years living in my home country and speaks fluent Russian!). Although the IFP technically only lasts for one semester, many students become such good friends with their hosts that they stay in touch with them long after that semester is over! Linda and I were matched back in August of 2018, but we still exchange messages on a regular basis and do something together from time to time. I am very thankful to the IFP program for giving me a long-term American friend, and strongly encourage all the new international students and scholars coming to Purdue to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!