So you have decided to move abroad. For every expat there are mundane tasks to tick off the to-do list such as finding a house, sorting out health insurance, opening a bank account and so forth. However, perhaps a more fun (or cringeworthy, depending on how you look at these things) challenge needs to be overcome – making friends.
The beginning is the most difficult. Once you make the first few contacts, even if they aren’t going to be friends for life, it will become much easier to meet more and more people from there on. Here are some tips to get you on your way to becoming a socialite or to simply find yourself that awesome group of friends to hang out with.
Ask your friends, family or work colleagues from home if they have any contacts in your new destination abroad. This could be a great first port of call and set you on your way to meeting people through a friend-of-a-friend.
If you’re not already fluent in the local language – take a language class. There you will meet new like-minded friends in a similar position to yourself. Learning a language online, such as with Rosetta Stone, might be effective but it’s hardly social. Get out there and interact with people – you will feel much better for it! This won’t only win you friends who are also struggling with the language, but the locals will really appreciate your efforts to learn and speak their language.
If your language skills are already top notch, then take another class or join a group. Whether it be a dance class, the local gym, a book club or the local football club, join up ASAP. You are sure to find interesting people with similar interests to yourself, so no need to worry about awkward conversation starters.
Similarly, look out for online groups for people with similar interests and hobbies. Use Twitter and Facebook to find other expats and travellers where you can organise or join events together. Sometimes connecting to someone who is in the same position as you whilst living away from home can be a real comfort. Try sites such as meetup.com to meet people and try out activities together.
Look out for local events, maybe there are festivals in your area, or sporting events. This is a perfect way to immerse yourself into the local culture and get to know people. Alternatively, if you have free time on your hands try volunteering or taking up a part time job to get integrated with the locals. If volunteering is a potential interest for you try checking out sites such as Go Overseas. If you want to be social and take up a part time job, working in a bar or the local coffee shop are good options.
Making friends abroad shouldn’t be a painful task but an exciting time to meet new people. Remember to get out of your comfort zone and to keep an open mind; with these two things in mind you’ll have friends in no time.
Share your tips for making friends abroad in the comment section below.