How to Make Friends in a New Country

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Moving to a new country—or even spending a year abroad—is a thrilling experience, but it also has challenges. Once you're past the whirlwind phase of seeing new sights and exploring your new life, it's time to put down some solid roots. To...
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Moving to a new country—or even spending a year abroad—is a thrilling experience, but it also has challenges. Once you're past the whirlwind phase of seeing new sights and exploring your new life, it's time to put down some solid roots. To keep your calendar filled with social engagements, make plans that get you out of the house and doing something you enjoy. Even the smallest connection can plant the seed for a lasting friendship.


Network through social media and personal connections.

  1. Ask friends back home if they know anyone in your area.
    Most people don't jump at the chance to show a stranger around town, but that changes as soon as you make a personal connection—even a tiny one.[1] Ask around for anyone who might know someone in your new home, and make a public post on social media too. Until you do, you'll never know if your old classmate's brother's best friend lives around the corner.[2]
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Spend time with fellow foreigners.

  1. Search online for expat events and immigrant communities.
    Look for expat groups on Facebook or Meetup, or search online for local cultural centers for immigrant communities. Even if they're not from the same culture as you, other foreigners are more likely to be looking for friends and ready to bond over your experiences in the new country. It's not surprising that most people living abroad have at least some immigrant friends.[3]
    • Leaving your comfort zone and getting to know locals is a great goal, but it's okay to make that a long-term plan. You still deserve friends while you're getting settled.

Invite coworkers, fellow students, or neighbors to events.

  1. Propose a group lunch or ask about weekend events.
    If you're studying abroad or if you work with other people, you have a big advantage: people who can't say no to polite conversation! But seriously, work (or school) is the most common way to find new friends after a move. All it takes is the courage to step up and make the initial offer. Similarly, you can connect with your neighbors by hosting a get-together or knocking on their door with baked treats.[4]
    • Start with something small. Try "I'm thinking of trying the restaurant around the corner for lunch. Anyone want to join me?"
    • Local coworkers can help you out even if you don't hit it off as friends. Don't be afraid to ask "What do people do for fun in the summer around here?" or "Do you know if there's a volleyball court nearby? I haven't found one since I moved here."
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Meet people through language exchanges.

  1. You can attend group events or connect one-on-one via an app.
    Extroverts might enjoy the language exchange events posted on sites like Meetup (which are often relaxed hangouts in a café). If you don't like groups, use apps like HelloTalk, Tandem, Italki, or Conversation Exchange to meet locals who want to trade an hour of speaking your native tongue in exchange for an hour of speaking theirs.[5]
    • Arrange to meet in person instead of just using text chat. It's much better for both language learning and forming a real connection with the other person.

Sign up for a language class.

  1. Look for small classes that meet regularly.
    Most language classes aimed at immigrants meet often and involve lots of conversation practice. It's almost like putting "make small talk with potential friends" on your calendar. Ask around for freelance teachers on local social network groups to find affordable, small classes. If you're a resident in your new country, check with local immigration or residency offices. Many countries will pay for part or all of your language classes, at least at the beginner level.[6]
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Show up to events you'd never go to back home.

  1. Every trip out of the house is a chance to meet the right person.
    Will your future best friend sit next to you at the combination pie-eating & DJ contest? Who knows, but they won't appear on your living room couch. Between Facebook groups for your city, Meetup, and fliers at your local bar, it's usually not hard to find something to do. The key is to motivate yourself to keep getting out there and trying new things.[7]
    • Search online or ask locals to find out about music festivals, fairs, and other cultural events in advance. These are great places to meet outgoing strangers, and you might even find people looking for a carpool buddy.

    Try saying "yes." "I grew up in Zimbabwe and when I moved to the United States I was shy and unsure how to make friends. I was nervous to put myself out there, but by saying "yes" to new experiences like going to dinner with new people or joining a club, I started to make friends and build strong communities."
    - Melody, a U.S. resident for 5 years'


Download friendship apps.

  1. This introvert-friendly option is more and more popular.
    Bumble BFF (a friend search mode inside the Bumble app) has exploded in the last couple of years.[8] You can also check out other general-purpose friend apps like Patook and Friender, or search your phone store for more specific apps like Hey! Vina for women or BarkHappy for dog owners.
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Talk to strangers.

  1. Practice your small...
    Practice your small talk and use it often. When you're the stranger in town, it's easy to feel awkward and out of place. The more you push past that, the more you'll find that almost everyone enjoys meeting new people.[9] As mundane as it sounds, chatting about where you came from and what the weather is like is the first step to getting to know someone.[10]
    • If small talk doesn't come naturally to you, prep in advance by finding something to say about local news or sports results. It doesn't have to be clever or interesting—it's just a simple conversational opening. When in doubt, tell a local something you love about their country ("The food here is so good!").

Join a hobby club or sports team.

  1. Pursue an old interest or explore a popular local pastime.
    Committing to a weekly hobby meetup is a great way to force yourself to socialize. There are always sports clubs looking for teammates, and you don't have to master the local language to find comrades on the sports field. If that doesn't appeal to you, there are a thousand other options: knitting clubs, book clubs, amateur theater, hiking groups, and maybe even a local activity you'd never be able to try back home. Joining a gym is another way to meet people with similar interests, as long as you make an effort to start conversations or sign up for exercise classes.[11]
    • If you want to try out a craft but aren't sure where to start, look for nearby "maker spaces" (often connected to libraries), which provide shared equipment for anything from kid's craft projects to serious scientific collaboration.[12]

    Do what you love. "When I moved to the United States I found that singing and music were great ways for me to build community. I joined a choir and acapella group and made amazing friends!" -Melody, a U.S. resident for 5 years'

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Meet other people doing leisure activities.

  1. Socialize at beaches, zoos, parks, and museums.
    Work up your courage and ask if you can join that volleyball game, introduce your kid to theirs, or just say "I'm from ___ and looking to meet people here, do you mind if I sit here?" If that's a little too extroverted for you, sign up for a group excursion like a museum tour, so there's a shared activity for you to talk about. You might not consider this approach at home, but this is a pretty common way to start friendships abroad.[13]

Volunteer for a good cause.

  1. Volunteering is an excellent way to feel connected to people.
    Feeling lonely isn't just about not having weekend plans; it can make us feel like we don't matter to the people around us. Volunteering lets you prove that feeling wrong by contributing to a community and getting immediate positive feedback. Join an organization that helps homeless people, visits retirement homes, or helps out animal shelters. You'll feel good about yourself, meet like-minded people, and find an immediate sense of connection.[14]
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