How To Make Friends Abroad:
Moving into another country is not without consequences. Imagine how it feels to live in a country with a culture different from your own. The thought alone is daunting. Approach this experience with an open mind. The transition is not easy, as it takes time to get into the swing of things. But we are humans and we have the ability to adapt into a new environment. We acclimate to create a sense of belonging.
The language barrier is real. Speaking the language can help you integrate better and faster. This is how you survive in a new culture. Even a limited vocabulary in your pocket will carry you far. You can manage yourself understood when you speak a bit of the language when you are doing groceries, reading newspapers, going to the doctor, ordering in restaurants, or visiting museums. When you spend enough time to blend in with the locals, you will see how you can easily pick up their lingo.
It is an overwhelming feeling to settle into a new life in a different country where everything else is so foreign. Embarking into new horizons also mean meeting new people. Our friendships are built organically over time. And as we age, making new friends is not that easy anymore. It’s an exhausting process and the overwhelming anxiety is holding you back. It is a struggle to reestablish yourself and having to reintroduce yourself to everyone. But you have to put yourself out there. Be bold. Be brave. Social isolation will make you feel lonelier in a foreign country. So get out of your comfort zone and try something out of your realm. Fortune favors the brave.
So how are you supposed to make friends when you do not know a soul? To hit the ground running, seize the opportunity to blend in with the locals and immerse yourself in their culture. Give a smile and a few pleasantries to people you meet and you’re off to a good start! Strike up a conversation with the one sitting next to you while sipping your coffee in a cafe. Talk about how beautiful the flowers are with the flower vendor, or talk about the weather with the shop owner. People will be glad to fill you in. You never know how far a small talk can go. Chances are, you will meet somebody who knows everybody and whom everybody knows. And in a short amount of time, you’ll be friends with his friends and your social circle is expanding without you even knowing. Easy peasy, right? Many locals are very accommodating and are more than willing to help you out if you need anything. They are a great source of help in navigating with your new life in their country. Engage them into small talks, ask about their local traditions or about the people. This also boosts your cultural literacy other than what you’ve read in the books.
Ask yourself, what interests you? Does volunteering sound inviting to you?Then check local community centers or Facebook groups that offer gatherings that allow you to meet like-minded people. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to connect with others you have a common passion and interest with. How about signing up for yoga classes? Or sports? It is also another awesome way of meeting new people that also involves activity bonding.
If you are a social butterfly, check online for any parties or social gatherings organized in the area to get people together. There are festivities locally that you also don’t want to miss. When someone you know (and trust) invites you to a party or a concert, give it a go! Be open to anything. Try visiting popular bars and restaurants where amazing people hang around. Get to know people while having your drinks or lunch.
If the idea of putting yourself out there into the unknown throws you off your comfort zone, always remember that technology brings us all closer. Take comfort that there are people who are still struggling with the transition. Social media is the best way to meet with people virtually who are on the same light as you are. What more comfort there is to interact with people who know what you are experiencing. Nothing brings you closer than having people share their invaluable knowledge when it comes to adjusting your mindset to match to your new environment.
Just be open minded. One day you will realize you have made more friends than you have ever imagined.