How to make friends in a new country
Moving to a new city or place can be exciting – everything is new, there are so many new things to discover, and there’s a sense that you can be or do anything! One thing that most people experience, however, is the challenge of meeting new people and making friends in their new home.
This is especially the case if you are working remotely or have a job that doesn’t see you meet very many people. It’s not unusual to find yourself looking for ways to make new friends, since feeling like you have a network of people around you is pretty crucial to feeling settled and happy in a new place.
Unfortunately, making friends as an adult is a little more difficult than it was when we were kids! Sometimes it can seem like people are too busy to want to meet up, and this can be even more difficult if you’re not working a regular 9 – 5 schedule.
Luckily, it is definitely possible to meet new people and develop your own network of supportive friends. It does take a little bit of time, and a willingness to go out on a limb to meet new people, but you will get there! Plus, there are lots of great organisations and resources online and offline that can be a great place to start, as well.
General Tips for Meeting New People in a New Place
• Look for activities that fit in with your schedule. For example, if you don’t have set hours for your work, think about joining a daytime activity. This way, the people you meet are likely to have similar schedules to you and will be more likely to be available to do things at the same time.
• Don’t be afraid to be a bit vulnerable – as mentioned, making friends as an adult is not easy. It means having the confidence (or pretending to have the confidence) to go out of your comfort zone and talk to strangers. This is not easy for everybody, however, always remember that other people are more worried about themselves than you, and will be glad you started the conversation!
• Groups that are centred around a hobby, activity or interest are a great place to start because they immediately give you some common ground and something to talk about. If all else fails, you can always talk about your mutual interest!
• Consider meeting people who have nothing to do with your job. Now, some people like to have friends in similar industries, which is absolutely fine – but in a new place, there can be the risk that you’ll treat social events like an extended business networking opportunity or spend the time ‘talking shop’! It can be nice and healthy to have an outlet to get away from work, especially if you’re a freelancer without set hours.
• Give it time. It’s normal to want to make friends right away, but of course relationships develop over time and you can’t really rush it. You might not walk away from your first social event feeling like you’ve just found your new best friend, but over time you’ll find that you have a bigger, and stronger, network.
Apps and Websites to Help Meet New People
There are some great online resources to help you meet new people! Here are some particularly helpful ones.
• Meetup.com – www.meetup.com – one of the most popular websites for meeting new people, on Meetup you can easily find people in your local area who are interested in hanging out. There are groups for pretty much everything you could think of – from book clubs, walking groups, wine clubs and more.
• Couchsurfing – www.couchsurfing.com – although Couchsurfing is typically aimed more at travellers, its “hangouts” option is a great way to meet new people. There are both once-off and regular events, and both are excellent for connecting with locals as well as temporary visitors.
• Classpass – www.classpass.com – Classpass allows you to find different fitness classes and activities all over the world, and try them out for a very reasonable fee. Not only is it good for your health, but they don’t call them ‘gym buddies’ for nothing!
• Groupon – www.groupon.com – it might sound like a funny choice, but this coupon website has so many great activities all around the world, such as walking tours, language lessons and cooking classes. These are fun activities, but also great opportunities to meet new people.
• Bumble and Vina (apps for Android and iOS) – Two apps that are popular for women looking for new friends, both are a bit like Tinder for friendships. Vina is strictly friends (and women) only, whereas some people do use Bumble for dating – there are separate sections for that, however.
• Facebook groups – www.facebook.com – Facebook groups for local areas are invaluable resources for meeting new people! Don’t be afraid to put up a post introducing yourself and looking for people to hang out with.
Offline Tools for Meeting new People
• Consider volunteering for a cause that you are passionate about. There are few better ways to get accepted into a new community than to volunteer!
• Join a sports club. Playing a team sport is an almost guaranteed way to make new friends, and there are clubs for people of all different abilities.
• Look out for university clubs and societies – many run events that you can attend even if you are not a student.
• Join a service club such as Rotaract (the under 30s equivalent of Rotary), Rotary, Lions or Zonta. They are a great mix of social events as well as opportunities to help the community.
• Go along to a book club – many book clubs run during the day, which is perfect for people like freelancers or remote workers who work funny hours.
• Become a local at a café or pub. Find a coffee or drinking spot you love, and go there often! You’ll be part of the furniture before long, giving you a place to go and feel social.
Thus starting a new life abroad is not always easy, as exciting as it is. Whatever the circumstance enjoy the adventure, have fun and reach out anytime.