When I was doing my MA in Japan I was lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive friends and a professor who still continues to support and guide and help me in more ways than I can count. The only problem was that there was only one other student in museum studies, all the other students in the program were in clinical psychology (it is a VERY broad program!), sociology, or education. Then, not long after I entered the program, my sempai (student above me) graduated. She and I met other students at a conference and got an informal monthly study group started, but I never had a sense of community, other students I could share book recommendations with, or go to museums with, or just talk "shop" with over a few drinks.
Until this year. I'm not in an MA program anymore, but I now have two kohai (students below me) under my professor and over the past half-year I've been introduced to or re-met about half a dozen other museum studies students or young professionals. A good number have studied abroad and two are even from abroad themselves!
One of those two, a woman from Taiwan who has just started her PhD here, became a good friend instantly. She had heard about me from my advisor and had apparently decided that we would be friends even before we met and it didn't take me long to realize she was a kindred spirit - from academic interests to general outlook to personal lives. Sadly she currently lives in Kansai, so we have only been able to meet up when she comes to Tokyo for conferences, but every time we have met up the time has sped by in a flurry of trading sources in Japanese and English (and one in Chinese, that freaked me out because I didn't realize it was Chinese and started hyperventilating over the kanji...!), debating the pros and cons of the Japanese educational system (followed by a heavy dose of complaining about Japanese academia), and good 'ole girl talk.
So turned to knitting to show my friendship in the best way I know how, even though the weather means that she won't be able to use it for months and months!