Making New Friends Abroad as an Expat
Making new friends as an expat can be more difficult than it seems- especially if you don’t yet fluently speak the language of your host country. Luckily, there are many great ways that you can ease the pain of adjusting to a new location and develop a list of new friends to make your host country feel like home. Check out these 5 tips for finding friends as an expatriate to get started.
Make Yourself Available
Before you even start the pursuit of finding new friends it’s important to realize that you might have to make a few extra concessions when it comes to building a new friendship. For example, although you might be tired at the end of the day if someone you would like to develop a friendship with asks you out to dinner- grab a coffee and head to dinner. While making these sacrifices shouldn’t become a habit over the lifetime of your friendship, in the beginning, it’s important to be flexible and take any chance possible to engage. Consider this- would you keep asking an individual to meet up if they keep turning you down?
Use your Resources
Check out local clubs and interest groups that you can join, this will not only allow you to do something you enjoy, but it will expose you to a number of individuals who share the same interests as you. If you can’t find a local interest group- start one! Just make sure to advertise it well and meet in a safe, public location.
Turning to sites like meetup.com are also a great idea. Meetup.com has meetups in a number of countries around the world and groups to match almost all lifestyles. Whether you enjoy fine dining, hiking, visiting museums, or a more specific hobby- more than likely Meetup.com will have at least one group that interests you.
Connect: Join Expats on these Social Networks
Join a Gym
Often gyms will have “workout buddy” programs that will partner you with someone who is at the same fitness level. This is a good chance to meet a new friend and stays committed to your workouts!
Seize the Moment
Consider each moment you are out exploring your new home as an opportunity to meet a new friend. Whether out shopping, sitting at a coffee shop, or walking your dog- if you see an opportunity to meet someone new don’t let it pass you by.
Friends in the Expatriate Community vs. Friends in the Local Community
When becoming an expat you are faced with many difficult options like where to live, what type of transportation to rely on, if you will take your pets along and where your children will go to school. Another difficult decision that you might not have to consciously make is if you will spend the majority of your time with other expats, or the locals. While you do have a conscious choice on who you befriend, sometimes friendships just fall into place. Since there are benefits to having local friends and expat friends, finding a fair balance in the number of expat and local friends you have can help you see the best of both worlds. Here are just a few reasons why both are great and it’s worth finding a fair balance in your types of friends.
Expat Friend Advantages
- They can relate to your situation.
- They know where to get the “expat” goods.
- They usually have a travel bug to see the world, just like you.
- Are typically well-traveled and make great travel buddies.
- You’ll have access to other locations. If you befriend an expat that is not from the same country as you- it opens the door for you to travel with them back to their home country on their next visit and explore that country with a local by your side.
- Having an expat companion can help soothe your homesickness and assimilate faster.
- You will have someone to speak your native tongue with.
Local Friend Advantages
- They will show you secrets that only locals have access to like what restaurants have authentic, local cuisine and how to find a great local apartment.
- If you are not fluent in the native language, they can help translate until you are.
- If you do need to learn the language, they make great practice buddies.
- You can celebrate holidays like the locals with them.
- You will be exposed to their friends and family which opens the door to even more friends.
- You will pick up on local slang very quickly.
- They can share the dos and don’ts of business etiquette of the local culture.
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