Making new friends as an adult can be challenging but throw in the fact that you live in a foreign country and it can feel incredibly difficult. Being an introvert and having lived in three countries I know first-hand the struggle of making new friends. It can seem scary but it is possible. The following tips have helped pave the way in making genuine connections and long-lasting friendships. Here are ways that you can step out of your comfort zone and make friends abroad.
A friendly reminder
First and foremost I want to remind you that you’re doing amazing! Moving overseas is no easy feat. Navigating your new country, its culture, language, and getting settled at a new job is a lot. So if making friends may have not been your first priority I want to remind you that it’s okay! Friendships take effort and time so remember that it’s a process to be kind to yourself.
Take a Language Course
Language can act as a barrier when trying to making friendships. Not only can lack of fluency restrict the way you socialize with others but it can also make you feel insecure. However, knowing some of the language can give you a better chance at hitting it off with the locals.
Go to a language exchange
These are small groups that meet together at a small pub or pub to practice speaking the language you are learning. As someone that prefers one-to-one conversations and smaller groups, language exchanges are my favorite way to meet people and make friends abroad.
Tap into your hobbies
Pursue your hobbies by joining groups and activities with similar interests. For instance, if you like cooking attend a bread making class. Love sports or staying active? Join your local football or running club. You are bound to meet people and make connections since you already have that common interest.
Join a Meetup
I will be honest and say that Meetup isn’t how I made any of my long-term friendships but I did meet a lot of people and think it’s a great way to get yourself out there. If you haven’t head of it Meetup it’s a website that has a number of groups that organize events and activities online and in person. They are all types of groups here related to your interests. Hiking, archery, cinema and photography are a small fraction of what they offer.
Spend some time volunteering
I often wonder why people don’t consider volunteering to make friends abroad. You have the opportunity to can help out a great cause and work side by side with locals. This also allows you to learn about their culture from a different perspective.
Attend those after work drinks
I was a bit hesitant to add this one to the list since I don’t like mixing my personal life with work. However, some of these outings have been the best way to break the ice between my colleagues. After moving to a new country and starting a new job, my colleagues were the people I spent the most time with. Going to these outings allowed us to connect on another level aside from work.
Expat networking groups
Before meeting one another expats tend to have a few commonalities between each other. Whether its coping with homesickness, the language barrier or any other expat struggles or wins. That’s why it can be nice to connect with expats and international communities. Sites like Internations or expat specifc Facebook groups are great resources.
Take matters into your own hands
Don’t wait for others to invite you out or for a convenient opportunity to come. Be proactive and make the first move. Ask that colleague, neighbor or acquaintance to coffee. Invite them to dinner or drinks. Take the initiative and host your own party. Be assertive and take matters into your own hands. Life is too short, so what do you have to lose?