A great aspect of going on exchange is getting the chance to engage with other students in a new country and make long-lasting connections. Shifting an exchange to online and not even leaving the home country obviously makes this a lot more difficult; however, it is not impossible. I will share with you today some actions that I have taken so far in my exchange semester to connect with others and make friends!
It is firstly important to move out of your comfort zone and not be shy. During every lecture on Zoom, my professors divide us into breakout groups so that we get the chance to meet others and discuss the lecture topics. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet others in my classes and it is imperative that I do participate. This has allowed me to make some great connections just through these breakout groups! We usually add each other on Facebook and message through the Messenger app afterward.
For one of my courses, I was not able to attend the lectures live due to a massive time difference. When there came time to do an assignment in pairs, I did not know anyone else in the class. What I did to find a partner was first email the professor asking if they would be able to connect me with someone in the class. They then advised me to use the forum on our course page on Blackboard. When I went there, I found that so many students were using this to find partners and I had actually ended up finding a partner by reaching out to one of the students who had made a post there!
I have also found that another great way to engage with others is to join Facebook groups for different initiatives, such as for the classes I am taking. My Spanish professor created a Spanish Studies page on Facebook to communicate additional resources to strengthen our learning. This is undoubtedly a great way to meet others, even in other lecture sections!
I have enjoyed following activities/initiatives happening on campus as well. I mentioned last week that I use the UWA app to do this and it is so great. If I come across any interesting activities or groups, there are ways to connect with them via social media and it is a great way to engage with others at UWA who have similar interests!
I was also added to an exchange group on Facebook by the UWA Study Abroad team and I am able to see there all the other students who are doing an exchange at UWA this semester. I reached out to some students through there as well as we are facing a similar situation and could share similar experiences!