There's a bullet point high on any expat's to-do list that tends to read: Must address – making friends in a new country.
You've done everything else. You've secured a place to live. You've managed to find a job, and you've started planning a few adventures around town.
The thing is – it ‘d be good to have someone to share these first few moments in a new city with.
One of the hardest aspects of moving overseas is leaving your network of established friendships behind.
Especially as it's one of those instances where you discover who your real friends are. This is information that can hurt.
As my mother is always saying, when one door closes, another one opens. There are plenty more awesome people out there.
All you have to do is find them… somehow. Here are some ways you can make friends in a new country.
Hang out with your colleagues
Being the new kid at work can be tough. People don't know your full potential, or who you are as a person.
You may find yourself on the outer. Left out of after work drinks, weekend brunches, birthday parties and events.
My advice? Relentlessly pursue.
Find one person with whom you connect and invite them out for a meal, or round to your place for dinner. Then charm them with your winning personality.
It's like school, as noted in the hit 90s movie Never Been Kissed. You just need one person to think you're cool – and you're in.
Sign up for a team sport
If you're naturally athletic (or not, I'm not here to judge) then you should consider signing up for a local sports team.
From soccer to netball, touch football, and even ultimate frisbee – there's a sport out there for everyone.
Many places have co-ed teams you can sign up to, doubling your chances of making friends.
Plus, you get a workout in. Two birds, one stone.
Pick up a new hobby
It's time to try out that hobby you've always wanted to do but never had time for.
Join a choir. Take up life-drawing classes. Learn how to grow vegetables. Try your hand at bookbinding. Become a member of a cheese tasting group.
It's surprising, the number of activities available.
Best of all, you'll be around like-minded people. You can giggle over naked bottoms in your life-drawing class, or hold a debate over the merits of brie versus camembert.
Scour social media for like-minded people
I've made friends through many kinds of social media – from Twitter to Facebook and even dating apps!
There are plenty of groups on Facebook for people who are new to certain cities.
For example, Aussies in London is an excellent resource for anyone in my situation, whether they're looking for general information, a room to rent, or a group of people to go drinking with at a pub in the city.
For Twitter, I'd advise getting involved in Twitter Chats.
Two of my favorites, held weekly are TravChat and The Road Less Travelled. You never know who else could be tweeting mere miles away from you.
And as for online dating – I've had failed dates turn into friendships. You never know!
Consider furthering your education
Moving to a new city could be a useful catalyst for broadening your horizons through further education.
If you don't speak the native language of your new country, you're probably going to want to invest in language lessons… where you'll find plenty of others in a similar situation to you.
Maybe now's the right time to apply for post-graduate qualifications in your professional field.
Depending on where you've moved to, this could work to your advantage.
Particularly in Europe, where tertiary education is often far more affordable than in the UK, Australia, and the USA… Anywhere from a few hundred euros a semester, to free.
It doesn't have to be a massive commitment. You could start a two-year master's course, or sign up for ten weeks of creative writing lessons.
Either way, there'll be plenty of like-minded people around, who will be more than happy to discuss the day's teachings over coffee after class.
Outside of work, many of the friends I've made here in London are people I've met while I was traveling elsewhere.
We've connected over the breakfast table at a hostel or on a group tour. We've then exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch from there.
These are the people I've found it easiest to befriend, as we're in similar circumstances. We're abroad, in a new and strange place, having the time of our lives.
I'm always looking for ways to make friends in a new country, as one can never have too many pals on hand. If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.
LC is an ex-expat who is currently re-exploring her home country of Australia. Follow her adventures at home and abroad via her blog Birdgehls, where she writes about travel, expat life, gushes on about various animals and bemoans her often futile attempts to go completely green. Or, you can look her up on Facebook.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Saturday 2nd of July 2016
Great article! I always started with work. For me just being open-minded an friendly worked the best . Once people see your smile and that you are interested in their live they open up back to you.
Wednesday 6th of July 2016
I agree, work is square one, although I've had a good level of success from hobby-related pursuits and social media too!