Friendship Program

Next to traveling, sharing your own culture with someone from a different country may be the best way to experience and understand the world. Every hike, dinner out, jam session, or museum trip inspires a dialogue about social customs, politics, and the ways in which we, as citizens of the world, are different and the same. 

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is proud to sponsor the Friendship Program to connect members of the Austin community with our international students and scholars. Hosts have the opportunity to meet people from across the world and help them feel welcome in their new home. International students and scholars will meet members of the community who help acquaint them with the city and the many facets of Texan and U.S. culture. This is not only an exciting learning opportunity, but also the foundation for lifelong friendships.

Guidelines & Requirements

Local Austin hosts

Local Austin Community Hosts

  • May be a single person, a couple, or a family, and living in Austin or a nearby city (e.g. Round Rock, Bastrop, Buda)
  • Must have the intention to remain in the program for one semester or one school year once matched
  • Must have the intention to plan an activity for you and your Friend(s) to engage in on a monthly basis
  • Be willing to keep an open mind, engage in new experiences, and to share your own culture and traditions 
  • Be willing to undergo a background check if one is required (UT policy)

Applications for Fall 2019 are now closed. Please consider applying for Spring 2020-those applications will open on November 1, 2019 and close on January 20, 2020.


International students and scholars

International Students and Scholars

  • Must be affiliated with the University as a student, visiting scholar, or faculty member while participating in the Friendship Program
  • Must have the intention to remain in the program for one semester or school year once matched
  • Be willing to engage in a monthly activity with your host
  • Be willing to keep an open mind, engage in new experiences, and share your culture and traditions

Applications for Fall 2019 are now closed. Please consider applying for Spring 2020-those applications will open on November 1, 2019 and close on January 20, 2020.


Friendship Program FAQ

Friendship Program is for non-student members of the Austin community. A perfect program for you is the PALS program, a sponsored student organization which matches current UT students with UT international students. To learn more about PALS visit the PALS site.

When possible, we try to match on hobbies and interests listed on applications. Other information, such as gender, age, and country of origin are also taken into account. We do this to provide the best opportunity for matches to share common interests and activities.

We do not match based on gender unless a student or host indicates that they are more comfortable with someone of the same gender.  If a host requests more than one match, it is likely that a mix of genders will be represented in the match group.

Please be aware that the Friendship Program is not intended to facilitate romantic connection.

Two hot topics that can inspire hours of debate and discussion! Neither are taboo talking points when engaging in activities with your Friend and are excellent subjects for intercultural exchange.  However, while sharing your religious and political views and traditions, you must also be open to learning and respecting those of your Friend!

Though sharing views and traditions are welcome and encouraged, proselytizing and campaigning are not.

The Friendship Program is primarily for cultural exchange, rather than for practicing language skills. While we attempt to match according to interests, we encourage you to look elsewhere if language exchange is your primary goal of becoming a Friend. There are many Austin-based tutoring services and meet up groups for language practice that you can turn to instead.

We will try our best to match you based on your listed preferences. Knowing which nations make up the UT international student/scholar community and in what proportions will give you a better idea of your chances of being matched with a student/scholar from a particular nation. You can see our student/scholar demographics for each school year by checking out our Facts & Figures.

Unfortunately, each year there is an unequal amount of students and hosts. This means that there are some who go unmatched. We encourage you to keep attending the Friendship Program events to engage in the community and will try to match you again during the following semester or as soon as we are able.

Email to request that we remove you from the mailing list and match another student in you place. This courtesy allows us to ensure that as many students/scholars as possible are matched with a host.


If you have any questions, concerns or comments email us at