From strangers to friends: making connections in grad school

By Chun-Ying Chao. I still remember the night I received the graduate school admission offer. It was midnight in Taiwan, and I was too excited to sleep.

The Graduate Student Ambassadors go bowling! Rice University grad student Chun-Ying Chao is pictured.

I still remember the night I received the graduate school admission offer. It was midnight in Taiwan, and I was too excited to sleep. But suddenly, one concern came to my mind – How to make new friends in the USA? Before studying in graduate school, I never had a chance to travel or study in the USA. All of my background knowledge about American life is from TV series, e.g., Breaking Bad (the most wonderful series, please watch this if you have a chance), Friends, etc. 

If you have the same concern, don’t worry. This blog is here to help you make some new friends in graduate school.

  1. Come to school one to two weeks before the orientation.

During the orientation week, you will be very busy and need to find different buildings and halls on campus. Give yourself time to familiarize yourself with the campus, so you can feel comfortable walking from one building to another. The best thing is that you can be the cool one to show others where the building is for the next orientation event. There are many nice spots at Rice that you can explore. 

  1. Attend coffee breaks or any free social events.

At Rice, you have a lot of opportunities to meet new friends. Make sure you regularly check your mailbox (both email and your department mailbox); the Rice Graduate Student Association (GSA) has weekly announcements about social events, volunteering, and sports. Many social events provide free food and even free drinks. Additionally, you can always check owlNest ( It is a website for you to check Rice events and student associations. In event search, you can choose themes to find an event you want to attend, for example, cultural events, fundraising, and art & music.

  1. Attend English and culture classes hosted by OISS.

OISS provides many free workshops for international students during the semester. The courses are free and the topics include idioms & slang, conversation, and pronunciation.  These classes aim to help Rice students, scholars, and their spouses (yes, the classes are free for your spouses) practice English, learn American cultures, and meet new people. If you are confident with your English skills, these classes are good opportunities to meet new friends and learn more about American culture. 

To sum up, there are still many ways to make new friends at Rice, and Rice creates friendly environments for people from different countries, backgrounds, and identities. You can always find a home at Rice.