We often assume that making friends is easy, until we find ourselves in an unfamiliar environment and experiencing major culture shock. Having a social support network is vital to a relocation; it will anchor you to your new home and allow you to integrate seamlessly into the community.
If you’re planning a move abroad, take a moment away from the paperwork and consider our top tips for making friends, and building your own life, in a foreign country.
Be Active Online
Online groups are one of the best ways to get involved with the community and create a presence for yourself. Community forums are great for meeting locals in your area, while many expatriate groups are full of other newcomers searching for friends.
There are many Facebook groups for expats in different cities, which is a nice way to connect and learn more about the different groups and topics in your new city.
Joining a group related to your favourite hobby, maybe a local sports team or book club, can be an amazing opportunity to meet people with the same interests as you. Online groups can allow you to reach hundreds of people without even leaving the house, and is a great way to ease yourself into a community.
Make the First Move
Sometimes finding and forming friendships as an expat is strangely similar to the dating process. So, the same rules apply. Just go for it!
Friendships can only be formed through conversation, so don’t be afraid to start one! Whether it be online, in the coffee shop queue or in a language class. And starting the conversation is just the beginning. Once you’ve connected with someone, don’t be afraid to message them and follow up. This can be intimidating to do, especially when approaching people of different cultural backgrounds and customs, but the best way to find out is by making that first move. Now, have some fun and talk to people.
Embrace the Culture
Your new life motto: don’t knock it till’ you try it. Try new hobbies, new classes, new languages -- nobody grows while inside their comfort zone. Being open to new experiences will introduce you to any number of new people and can provide you with the common ground you need to kickstart a friendship.
As well, there’s no point moving abroad to live in the mindset of your home country. Immerse yourself in the culture, learn the language and let yourself become part of the community. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you will learn and grow.
Moving abroad can be a daunting experience. Providing yourself with opportunities to learn new skills, explore new culture and meet new people will allow you to transform a foreign country into your home.
Things to Remember:
Go Out of your Comfort Zone
It can be exciting to meet someone abroad who is from your home country; however, this may not be a guaranteed friendship. Moving abroad is a challenge, by clinging to people from your home country, you may be limiting yourself to your comfort zone. Push yourself to chat with the locals and watch your confidence as a citizen in your new home grow.
Take Each Opportunity
As a foreigner in a new country, it’s very easy to fall in the trap of isolation and being afraid to make new friends, but it’s important to reflect on your reason and goals for moving abroad. Take every opportunity to meet some new and interesting personalities, focus on the beauty of the culture and language, and you’ll find yourself connecting with people along the way.