How to Make Friends While Abroad
Are you heading overseas to begin a new life as a digital nomad? Or have you already landed, and now you’re trying to establish yourself as an expat overseas? Among your packing and preparations, you likely researched visas and the climate of your destination country. But you may not have considered how you were going to make friends abroad. At school, university, or while starting a new job, meeting new people was natural. As a digital nomad in a new country, you may have fewer natural opportunities to meet people so you can make friends overseas. But these tips on how to make friends while abroad will have you filling up your social calendar in no time at all!
Stay in Hostels
You may already be settled into a new home away from home, but if you haven’t found permanent lodging, consider staying in a hostel instead of a hotel. Though hostels have a reputation for welcoming younger travelers, there are plenty of people of all ages who stay in hostels. Sign up for a shared room and you’ll meet plenty of people who are traveling just like you. Get to know some of them and make friends overseas!
Staying in a hostel also gives you the opportunity to learn about local events from other expats and locals alike. If you’re not keen on sharing a room, there are typically options for private lodging. Even if you don’t share your sleeping space, hostels provide shared community spaces to connect with others both staying and working at the hostel.
Join a Co-Working Space
As a digital nomad, signing up for a co-working space can be a great investment. You’ll have a dedicated place to go to get work done, as well as access to reliable internet, printers, and other office tools. But co-working spaces can be more than a place that helps you survive as a digital nomad. This space could also help you find friends abroad.
Remember, you’ll have something in common with others at any co-working space — you’re all doing remote work. Check out the breakroom and see if any activities, like a visit to a local bar or pub, are being arranged. Or invite some people to join you for lunch at a local café. As long as you remain respectful and don’t interfere with anyone getting work done, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make after-work connections.
Do you speak the local language of your new country? If you don’t, studying it is not only a great way to absorb more of the culture, but a surefire way to make friends! These fellow students, who will likely be around the same level of language proficiency, are perfect for practicing conversations before or after class. Plus, even if you don’t make friends abroad in a language class, you’ll have the benefit of developing skills that will help you communicate with others. Another option if you’re learning the language of your new home, is to connect with a local or someone who is more advanced to practice your new skills outside of class.
Look to Your Own Interests
Making friends while abroad is easier to do when you already have something in common. So think about what you like to do, or consider trying an activity you’ve always dreamed of but couldn’t fit into your busy schedule. Part of being a digital nomad and expat abroad is flexibility. If you’ve managed to make the move overseas, you should hopefully have time for some fun. And that fun can help you find friends abroad.
Classes and Clubs
Remember, you’re trying to do things that you enjoy, which will ensure you share a common interest with your co-participants. So let your imagination run wild and pick out an activity you’ve never dared to do until now!
Here are a few suggestions for activities to join:
- Cooking (perhaps you can master a local specialty!)
- Wine tasting
- Painting or drawing
- Singing groups
Maybe you chose to be an expat in a beach town and now you’d like to learn how to surf. Perhaps you played rugby before and want to find a league you can join, or you just have fun playing basketball. You might simply want to find hiking companions. Whatever interests you, pursuing it might help you make friends abroad. If you have a gym membership, ask people there if they know of any leagues or teams you can sign up for.
Volunteer work is another way to meet people and make friends abroad. You don’t want to be an expat who doesn’t contribute to the local community, right? By volunteering, you can meet people while assisting others.
Volunteer opportunities will depend on your location, but there should be something available. The committee that’s setting up for a local festival would probably be delighted to have an extra set of hands for setting up chairs. And if you have any special skills, for example, video production, you should have no issue finding groups that would welcome you as a volunteer!
Create Connections Through Religion
As a believer, you may have already planned to find your local church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other places of worship. If you believe, but didn’t attend services in your home country, think about doing so as an expat. By meeting other people who share your faith, you can quickly make friends while abroad. Plus many places of worship organize classes and volunteer activities, which will be other opportunities for you to contribute to the community and find friends abroad.
Social Media and Online Resources
How are you going to find any of the activities or locations listed above? You’ll probably look online. And social media, forums and other websites are great tools when you’re wondering how to make friends while abroad.
There are meetup sites for expats. Meetups are also arranged based on interest. Simply enter your location on Meetup.com to see what’s happening in your area. Social media sites like Reddit and Facebook are other great online places to find groups living in your new area that share your interests. If you’re single, visit Tinder, Bumble, or another dating app to create connections with people in your new country.
Exercise caution when first meeting people you’ve encountered over social media. The same precautions you would take in your home country should still hold true as an expat abroad. Get together in public locations. Let somebody know where you’re going. And don’t share too many personal details, like your address and the fact that you’ll be away from it for a few hours because you’re going to a meetup.
It is possible to make friends overseas! Even though it takes a little bit of effort, creating connections abroad will make your experience that much more special. The important thing is being willing to take the first step, whether it be going to a meetup, signing up for a class, or inviting someone to lunch. Once you make a few connections, you’ll feel even more excited about living in your new location.
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