Sample Process Essay: Making Friends in College as an ESL Student

EssayProcess Essay

A process essay is a type of essay meant to instruct the reader on how to perform a specific task. The task can be something simple, like making an omelet, or complex, such as fostering diversity in the workplace. This sample teaches English as a second language students (ESL students) how to make friends in college despite the language barrier.

Globalization has turned the world into a much smaller place. Apart from the fact that it is now much easier to travel around the world, advanced technologies have allowed for instantaneous communication and transfer of information. The majority of the world’s population has benefitted from these developments, from individuals who can now connect with friends and family to multinational companies whose operations have become more efficient and streamlined. Also included among the groups that have benefited from these changes are international students. Today, it is not unusual for students to study in other countries. According to recently collected data, the United States alone has over 1.1 million foreign students (Israel and Balatova, 2021). The United States is followed by Australia, which hosts 700,000 foreign students, and Canada, which has around 642,000 foreign students (El-Assal, 2020). While studying abroad offers many advantages and opportunities, it also poses some unique challenges. In particular, being an ESL or English as a second language student can sometimes be a lonely experience. The language barrier prevents an ESL student from socializing with people, participating in activities, and establishing connections. ESL students, however, need not endure isolation. Even when an ESL student’s language proficiency is not yet that advanced, they can still make new friends if they know what to do. Making new friends as an ESL student can be accomplished in seven easy steps, beginning with building one’s confidence.

Step 1: Build Your Confidence

The first step in making new friends is building your confidence. Wanting to have new friends is one thing. Having the courage to actually meet and interact with people is another. Approaching others and trying to become friends with them is already intimidating for people who share the same language. Hence, it can be assumed that the process is even more difficult for someone who speaks a different language. A study by Meier and Daniels (2011) found that making new friends is extremely hard for foreign language students. It is important, therefore, to first build confidence before heading out. Having confidence means that a person not only intends to achieve the goal but is committed to the process. Having confidence also has practical value for someone looking for new friends. Studies show that prospective friends respond positively to those they consider as confident (Cheng and Furnham, 2002; Albrecht and Ko, 2017). This finding makes sense since the right amount of confidence has traditionally been seen as a positive and therefore appealing attribute.

Step 2: Know What You Want in Friends and Friendships

Once you are confident enough, it is time to determine what you want in friends and friendships. It is important to note that there are certain elements that make friendships successful. For one, there should be shared interests. Shared interests give friends a reason to bond over specific activities. For example, people who are both into outdoor activities or sports will have more reason to hang out together than people who do not share the same interests. Similar interests can be considered as the fuel that keeps friendships exciting. Apart from shared interests, shared values are also important. Friends who share certain morals and principles are more likely to stay friends than those who have very opposite values (Galupo and Gonzalez, 2013). This is not to say, however, that you should look for friends who are identical to you. In fact, being friends with people who have different attributes, beliefs, and backgrounds makes a person more tolerant (Gunnarsson et al., 2015). The point is, when looking for friends, you should be able to find some common ground on which the friendship can be built.

Step 3: Identify Your Areas of Interest

Once you know what you want in friends and friendships, the next step is to know about your interests. This step requires you to do some introspection in order to know yourself more. You need to be aware of what you want to do and where you want to be. Knowing what makes you happy and preoccupied will help you identify the places where you can find friends. For example, if you are more of an indoors person, then it does not really make sense to look for friends in places that are frequented by outdoorsy people. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Step 4: Join Groups, Events, and Activities

At this point, you have already mustered the confidence to approach people, identified what you want in friends and friendships, and figured out where to find them. The next step is to actually join groups, events, and activities where there will be people who you can be friends with. Social interaction is an important element of making friends and building networks, which means you need to be present in such engagements (Smets and Velazquez-Quesada, 2017). For example, joining a school organization you are interested in can be a good start. If you feel nervous or intimidated, remember that many organizations tend to be very friendly and welcoming. Many are also very open-minded, so you can expect them to be more patient and considerate when it comes to communicating with you. Do not be afraid that people will laugh at you for your limited English. While there are people who will be like that, there are far more who have the good sense to understand your current limitations and help you overcome them.

Step 5: Invite People Out

Bear in mind that you should not rely on joining organizations and group activities. You also need to be able to interact with your new acquaintances outside of these engagements. You will not be able to really get to know them if you just see them in such functions, especially if the said functions are rigidly structured to the point that they do not allow for casual conversations. Participating in these regular events just makes you organization mates or acquaintances and not friends. To remedy this, try to invite people out. Ask them to join you in more relaxed settings where you can just talk and share ideas. For example, inviting people out for coffee is a good way to learn more about each other. Another is by inviting them to your home for a meal.

Step 6: Be Kind and Authentic

One of the most important steps in making new friends is being kind and authentic. The attitude and personality you present and how people perceive these greatly influence the kind of relationship you build (Smets and Velazquez-Quesada, 2017). Studies show that people respond more positively to others who appear to be good-natured and honest. These qualities signal openness, which in turn has the effect of drawing people in. On the other hand, people are less likely to be friends with others who they think are not being truthful about who they are (Albrecht and Ko, 2017). The key to being kind and authentic is having empathy, generally just being at ease, and enjoying the moment with friends.

Step 7: Keep Working on Your English

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, is to keep working on your English communication skills. As has been established earlier, the language barrier can be a major hindrance to meeting people and making new friends. But as you get better at English, socializing will also become easier for you. Of course, developing your language proficiency takes time, and this is why you can rely on the other steps of this process for the time being. One way by which you can work on your English is by simply talking with your new friends. Never mind that your English is not perfect. Remember that true friends understand that learning a new language takes time. You will find that as time passes you are getting better and better at wielding the language.


Being an English language student is an incredible experience. Being in a foreign country and exposed to a new culture can be enriching and educational. But one problem many ESL students face is social isolation. Having a different language is often a barrier to making new friends. However, there are steps to overcome this challenge. An ESL student needs to build confidence, identify what they want in friends and friendships, know where to look for friends, and join groups and organizations. Furthermore, an ESL student needs to be able to invite people out to hang out, stay kind and authentic, and keep working on their English skills. Ultimately, these steps will help an ESL student establish a social network of new friends.

The process essay falls under the broader category of expository essay. Also under this category are compare and contrast, cause and effect, and descriptive essays . If you are confused by the differences between these essays and other writing projects, you do not have to worry. CustomEssayMeister has professional and expert writers to help you with your coursework.


Albrecht, S. and Ko, G. (2017). How do immigrant students develop social confidence and make friends in secondary school? A retrospective study. The qualitative report, 22(9), 2385-2403.

Cheng, H. and Furnham, A. (2002). Personality, peer relations, and self-confidence as predictors of happiness and loneliness. Journal of Adolescence, 25 (3), 327-339.

El-Assal, K. (2020, February 20). 642,000 international students: Canada now ranks 3rd globally in foreign student attraction . CIC News.

Israel, E. and Batalova, J. (2021, January 14). International students in the United States . Migration Policy Institute.

Galupo, M. P. and Gonzalez, K. A. (2013). Friendship values and cross-category friendships: Understanding adult friendship patterns across gender, sexual orientation and race. Sex Roles, 68, 779-790.

Gunnarsson, G. J., Finnbogason, G. E., Ragnarsdottir, H., and Jonsdottir, H. (2015). Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, 2015(2), 94-113. urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-36698

Meier, G. and Daniels, H. (2011). ‘Just not being able to make friends’: social interaction during the year abroad in modern foreign language degrees. Research Papers in Education, 28 (2), 212-238.

Smets, S. and Velazquez-Quesada, F. R. (2017). How to make friends: A logical approach to social group interaction . International Workshop on Logic, Rationality and Interaction. LORI 2017.

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