Friends from afar

From Hawaii to Japan, our online meet-ups get students talking from all over the world.


Hosted by students, online meet-ups are a brilliant way to socialise with other OU students. We spoke to the hosts of the International OU Students online meet-up, Isabelle and Tala, to find out what it’s like meeting other OU students online.

The meet-ups

Being an international OU student can be difficult. Isabelle explained that OU students can often already feel isolated due to studying remotely, and this isolation may be more amplified for international students. Because international students may live far from other OU students and from the UK, they may go through their degree without having met any other OU students face-to-face. It can also be daunting attending an online session and talking to strangers, especially if English is not your first language, as Tala explained. 

Isabelle and Tala decided to start the International OU Students online meet-ups to help overcome these issues for International students.  The meet-ups aim to provide a welcoming space for International students to virtually meet one another, discuss their studies and have a general chat. Tala told us that ‘it's always nice to feel like you're part of a community, and have people you can regularly chat with, relate to, and eventually become friends with.’

The online meet-ups are relaxed and informal, and having held two successful meet-ups already, Isabelle and Tala are hoping to continue regular meet-ups once a month. Their next online meet-up is planned for Saturday, 29 August, so do come along! You can find out more details on our website

Being a host

Tala also told us about what it’s like hosting an online meet-up: ‘I've loved everything about being an online meet-up host so far. Connecting with people from so many countries all over the world, getting to know them, preparing the slides and topics for the meet-ups… all of what comes with being an online meet-up host really adds to the experience. I'm so glad this role was created, as if it didn't exist, international students would continue to either attend other online events where they might've not fully felt like they fit in, or they would've continued to miss out on in-person meet-ups because of living outside the UK.’ 

Another benefit of being a host for an online meet-up is that it can be completed from the comfort of your own home. Isabelle told us: ‘I really wanted to get involved with the OU and the Association, but living outside the UK made it quite difficult, so I jumped at online volunteering opportunities when those became available and that is how I became an online meet-up host.’ Recruitment is open to be an Association Online Host, which enables you to host online meet-ups and events, if this sounds like your cup of tea! Apply before 10 August here

Join the club…

In addition to the online meet-ups, Tala also started an international students club to provide a space for international students to meet and chat regularly. Tala said: ‘I wanted to set up something that would allow all of us to relate to each other, and allow us to keep in touch as a group no matter where we were. I also wanted the International Students Club to be open to those from the UK who are not living in the UK. I thought this would be a great way to enable them to hopefully meet other OU students living in the same country as them. Being a member of this club also allows them to relate to other students who may not be living in their own country, further strengthening the sense of support and community between international students.’ You can find out more information about the International Students Club, and how to get involved, on the Association's website.

So, if you are an international student, know that you’re not alone and there are other international students out there for you to talk to. Maybe attending an online meet-up, or joining the International Students Club, could make you friends in your country or the other side of the world!

Want to know more?

Online meet-ups are a new project to help students meet and connect with other OU students online. There are many online meet-ups, so if you aren’t an international student you can still get involved by checking out our other online meet-ups and events. We currently have online meet-ups for students in locations such as Birmingham, Bath, Yorkshire, Oxford and International, but students are also venturing into hosting subject-specific meet-ups. If you have any questions about meet-ups, don’t hesitate to contact the Students Association community team at oustudents-meetups@open.ac.uk.


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Lara Munday

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