Feb 21st, 2023, 09:00 AM

Ways to Make Friends in the City of Paris

By Lauren Rosker
Image credit: Chandler Gillyard
Going to a new school is hard enough, but many AUP students are also adjusting to living in a new country as they try to figure out university.

It’s a common worry for those starting at the American University of Paris that it may be challenging to make friends as there is not a structured campus and newcomers are busy trying to make a life for themselves in a foreign, fast-paced city. I transferred in as a sophomore, limiting my pool of people to meet at orientation, as we were grouped with a small number of other transfer students. For those struggling to make friends in Paris or for those looking to gain inspiration on how to expand their circle, this is for you. I have racked up a list of several options for making friends by asking current AUP students for their suggestions on how to make friends at AUP and in Paris.

Join Facebook groups:

There are so many Facebook groups out there that you are bound to find one that matches your interest. For example, a friend’s sister spent a summer in Paris and joined a group called “Women Living in Paris.” This group held many fun events, like doing a group walk along the Seine and renting out a restaurant for an aperitif.

There are groups for nationalities, hobbies and interests like “Pakistanis in Paris” or “Art and Music events in Paris”. Whatever group suits you will have like-minded individuals in it that post different events or meet ups to create a community for the members. 

Amex Cafe:

Amex Cafe, located on the ground floor of the Combes building, is one of the best ways you can meet other students in the community. You can grab a bite to eat, take a seat at any table and spark a conversation with people around you—which is a common thing to do in the Amex, so people won't think it's unusual. I interviewed my friend Isaac Bates, an AUP graduate student, for his advice on how to make friends.

“Get out of your comfort zone and be more outgoing than you're used to. That can come in several forms. I’ve made a few friends by playing pool in the Amex or sitting at the fancier chairs around the coffee table. If you smoke, you can go outside the Amex and while you’re having a cigarette, there are usually people who will come up to you and talk,“ Bates said.

Take classes in things you are interested in:

Whether you are into cooking, pottery, sports or makeup, there is a class in Paris for you. This is a great way to meet different people who are guaranteed to have at least one similar interest since you’re both taking the class.

“I’m into health and fitness, and I was worried that there wouldn’t be classes in Paris similar to the ones we have in the States, but I found hundreds of different fitness studios all around Paris," said Ashley Goodman, AUP junior. "It’s so nice because if I’m really into boxing, I can find boxing or kickboxing studios around the city where it is guaranteed that the people attending also like boxing. After you go a couple of times, you start to build a little community that revolves around this shared interest and people in those classes are usually really open to talking to you. Then when you find someone you like, you can ask them to get lunch or maybe try out another studio with you. It’s essential to just put yourself out there a little bit because you never know who you’ll meet or what amazing connections you can make from a small thing like just going to a workout class.” 

Tip: for workout classes, ClassPass is great for finding and trying out a bunch of different studios around Paris at a lower price. Check out this Peacock guide for studios in Paris to go to.

Plazas/public squares:

Grabbing a friend to hang out in a park or public square is a great way to get some air, explore Paris and be in an environment where many different people surround you.

“Obviously, it’s pretty cold outside right now, but when it’s warm, it is so nice to sit at public squares and parks. The vibe is so amazing, as everyone is so happy to be outside. Many people are playing games like spike ball, which you can join. It’s hard to put into words, but the vibe is always so happy and nice that people want to talk and connect with others around them. Then you can make plans with people to get dinner or have a soirée, and you can get invited to some cool events. I actually met two of my best friends from just chilling at Invalides,” said AUP sophomore Elena Macias.

Other apps than Facebook:

I did some additional research and found apps that organize meetups other than Facebook. MeetMeOut is a website where you can input your interests and it will show you a bunch of different kinds of events that the algorithm thinks you would be interested in. Tous Bénévoles is a website surrounding community service and allows you to find ways to help the community among other people passionate about civic engagement. Meetup is an app where people can post any meetup they’ve organized that you can join. It’s like joining a Facebook group, but Meetup has far more options. Station F is a platform that connects tech and startup entrepreneurs and is used for networking.


Spark up conversations in class:

When asked how to make friends at AUP, the most common response is to spark conversations with people in class and by joining school clubs. There are a lot of different clubs offered at AUP, and there is bound to be one that piques your interest. You can always go one time to check it out, and you never know who you will click with there! Sparking up conversations in class is a way that I’ve made a lot of my friends at school since we end up spending a lot of time together, which brings us closer. 

“When I started attending in-person class again, I didn’t really miss the whole friend group thing, but I did miss having a best friend. The best advice for making friends is to be active in classes and open to everyone. I definitely picked up the pace in classes and was talkative and interested in actually making plans with people and giving it a shot," senior Charley Caland said "The bottom line is to have a really open mind, and you don’t need a huge friend group to feel fulfilled. Focus on the people you find that make you happy, as cheesy as that sounds." 

The best advice is to put yourself out there to talk to everyone and be open-minded. A great thing about AUP is that there are people from all over the world of different ages and backgrounds. You can meet the coolest people here—remember that it takes time and stepping outside your comfort zone always pays off!