Moving to another country is not easy. building up a new life there even more difficult. Especially to meet people and Finding new friends usually proves to be a bigger problem, than most expats think. But why? And how can you make your life easier?
Making friends abroad: introduction vs. reality
When preparing for your move abroad, you have to think about a few things: finding a job, choosing a new place to live, all that pesky paperwork with the insurance company. But have you ever thought about it, what will become of your social life, when you arrive in your dream city? Probably not. Why would you? You can still worry about it when you get there. Can’t be that hard, can it??
you will meet people at work, and some of them are bound to be cool. Once you get to know two or three of them better, they will introduce you to their friends and the whole thing starts all over again: meet – get to know – make friends. Like a chain reaction. After a month at the latest you will have built up a new network of friends. That’s what you think. or hope. or make a wish. But the whole thing sounds much easier than it is in the end. New friends don’t suddenly appear just because you want them to, you have to work for it.
making friends in a new city is like looking for penguins in the desert. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. It’s incredibly hard. Do you know why? The simplest answer: your potential new friends already have friends! There’s just no reason for them to spend more time with you. To get accepted into a group of longtime friends, you’ll have to put in some effort. Someone once said that making friends in a foreign country is like dating. There are even Apps like Tinder to help with finding friends abroad! That sounds a bit intimidating or? I agree with you. That’s the reason why I’m writing this article. With these tips you won’t be left in a lonely, dark corner of your small apartment :P.
Making friends abroad: here’s how
There are two things you should think about. First: all your friends were strangers before. So, don’t be afraid to go out and meet new people! Secondly, there is a difference between people you meet and party with and real friends. To build real friendships you need Time and patience, It won’t happen overnight. But how do you even find these people now?!
1. Before moving: find friends online
There are so many forums, Facebook groups, etc., that you can join before you go abroad. You are probably Not the only person starting a new life in your city of choice. Accordingly, tens of other people are also looking for new friends.
A practical tip: If you can’t decide where to live, maybe it’s time to try couch surfing! Not too long, of course, but two or three days is enough to meet new people. Most of them will be super happy to host you, show you around the city and give you some secret tips. If you get along well, you’ll stay in touch after that too. It is so simple. If couch surfing isn’t your thing, you’ll also be meet a lot of cool people in hostels.
2. Get out!
To meet new people, you will have to meet a lot of cool people leaving your apartment. Sounds obvious? Cool, then get out there! Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk the streets begging everyone to befriend you. that would be crazy. How about giving a Join sports clubs, music schools or other groups that fit your hobbies? This is also how you find people who share your interests. You can even meet people if you go to the gym regularly. Or maybe you should start a new hobby. It’s so easy to get into conversation with experts when you’re an interested beginner.
Now you’re thinking: "But I can’t go to the gym every day, my biceps are getting way too big"!" Or maybe you are just not a sports person. In this case, you should just sit down in a cafe. Maybe even to the bar? You could chatting with the bartender and ask him about nice places you can go to next.
3. Say "Yes"!
After a while you will have built up a network of contacts that could potentially become your friends. When they ask you if you want to do something, what do you say? Of course "YES!". To strengthen your relationships, you have to live in the moment. Drinks after work? Cool! Sunday brunch? Of course! I have to admit, you can’t do that every day because at some point you run out of money. Instead, you can think of ways to, that are easy on your wallet, and suggest them to the others. They will appreciate your initiative!
For example, one of our Next Station colleagues was asked by a friend if she would like to want to be an ambassador for a meet-up organization. Guess what she said? Of course it was "yes"! – At the beginning, she was not at all convinced that she could print! Yet they have overcome and now meets hundreds of people every month. There are so many ways to make contacts!
4. Do some advertising.
… for yourself. This idea is so crazy that I have to mention it here! Someone had the suggestion, to print a shirt with a few words, saying you’re new in town and looking for new friends. We’re not 100% sure if this will work, but at least people will come up to you and talk to you. Be careful where you wear the shirt though. In some parts of town there are always strange people you would rather not talk to. Still, if you try it, let me know how it works out! If you’re not the kind of person who feels good when your shirt says something like: "I want to make friends, talk to me" – admittedly, it sounds really strange -, you can maybe just try to approach someone on the street, because you like his coat, his shoes or his hairstyle.
5. Follow up!
I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s so important that I’ll just repeat it: you have to be patient! Making friends takes time – even more so the older you get. Don’t despair! The most important thing: try to be a good friend yourself. The people who appreciate it will want to be your friends in return.
Last but not least: don’t forget your friends at home! They’re still thinking about you, and even if you don’t have much time to keep in touch, they’ll be happy to hear about you and your new experiences from time to time.