Familiarity as a Family

Close Friendships Between Malaysian Students and their Co-National Friends in the UK


  • Nur Hafeeza Ahmad Pazil Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)




close friendships, co-national friends, familiarity, homophily, Malaysian Students, sense of belonging, space


The purpose of this study is to explore close friendships and intimacy practices of Malaysian students in the context of living abroad. Some of the new close friends, specifically co-national friends in the UK, are perceived as “family” although some of them have not yet acquired family-like qualities in their relationships. Due to the situation of living abroad, the students acquired the “familiarity as a family” relationship—a new concept introduced in this study to explain this complicated relationship, with co-national friends in the Malaysian community in the UK. A sense of belonging and homophily, and shared physical space and activities are two key factors that influenced these practices of intimacy, which will foreground the discussion in this paper.

Author Biography

Nur Hafeeza Ahmad Pazil, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

NUR HAFEEZA AHMAD PAZIL, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in the Section of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Her major research interests lie in the area of friendship and intimacy, gender practices, religion and cultural norms, social media, social mobility, international students and higher education. 


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How to Cite

Pazil, N. H. A. (2019). Familiarity as a Family: Close Friendships Between Malaysian Students and their Co-National Friends in the UK. Journal of International Students, 9(3), 896–911. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v9i3.732



Research Articles (English)