Moving to a new country comes with many common challenges whether it’s finding a job or learning the local language. But another challenge you may face when moving abroad is making friends! If you are planning to move to a new country, don’t fret! There are many ways to meet new people and get out on the social scene. Granted it isn’t always easy, but it is totally possible.
Personally, since I moved to Switzerland it has not been easy for me to meet new friends or stay in touch with the people I have met up with. I am 50% a social butterfly who loves to go out and do things, but the other 50% of me is an old lady who loves to stay at home and not have human contact for days. So if you have the same problem as me, keep reading and I will reveal to you my tips for making friends!
- Use social media to reach out
Apps like Facebook and instagram can be so helpful when you are looking to meet new people. When I moved to Zurich, I found so many Facebook groups that had thousands of other expats/people living in Zurich. It is a great way to introduce yourself and to try and find likeminded people you can hangout with. I recommend writing a little post about yourself, what you like to do, etc. and ask the group members if anyone would like to meet up for a walk, drink, coffee… This is a great way to put yourself out there (without even having to leave your couch).😉
Instagram is kind of the same, but on this platform you can find other people living in your area and follow their account if you like what you see! Reach out to them and send a little message. Most people will be really open and sometimes group events can even come out of this action.
2. Try the MeetUp app
A great tool for finding events, clubs, or other group activities is MeetUp. It is a free platform you can use where you create a profile for yourself and you can easily search for different groups in your area. Lots of these groups are very well organized and even have weekly/monthly outings! It is important to be repetitive when meeting new people such as following up and keeping in touch. The MeetUp app can be a great way to do so as you can just attend these events that are already organized.
3. Leave your house!
I know, this one may come as a surprise 😉 but it won’t be as easy to meet new people if you are not going out into the real world. I know it isn’t easy to just go to a coffee shop and introduce yourself to strangers (of course if you are really forward you could try this!) But I would recommend going to concerts, festivals, and other events that interest you as you will likely find likeminded people there. Going outside of your comfort zone can be really scary and I know it’s hard to put yourself out there. But be brave and do your best!
4. Start the conversation (and keep it going!)
Starting the process of reaching out to someone you would like to be friends with can be really daunting, what do you say? How do you introduce yourself? It is easy to keep yourself from starting the convo. But you can’t rely on other people to always be the ones reaching out to you! If you stay in your shell, it will be way harder to make friends. Once you have the conversation started and you are clicking well with the person, keep it going. Ask questions, talk about your experiences, and get to know them. If you meet up with the person, make sure to follow up! Sometimes people are forgetful or may not initiate a second meet up.
5. Take a class
This is a great tip for you if you are moving to a country where you don’t know the local language. The easiest way to make friends that are also in the same boat as you is to take a language class! This way you will most likely meet others who are going through the same thing as you. Plus you will improve your knowledge on the language and then will be easily be able to communicate with local people too!
If language class is not an option for you in your situation, try something else like cooking, scrapbooking, karate, etc! Whatever floats your boat.
6. Be open to invitations from work colleagues
In a lot of work environments, afterwork drinks or meetups are a thing. If your colleagues invite you somewhere after work or to a work part, etc. say yes! Take any opportunity you can to socialize and get to know people. It may suck or you may not click with any of your colleagues, but at least you tried to get yourself out there. (And for next time you’ll know not to join and you can go home and become the inner 80 year old lady that you really are deep down.)
7. Remember that rejection is okay!
If you don’t click with someone or your attempt to become friends is rejected, don’t sweat it. It’s likely to happen in your search for new friends, but keep trying and don’t give up! The right people will eventually come around and you will build up your friend circle. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea! Just keep putting yourself out there and continue being yourself.
I hope these tips have helped you in some way and that your friend-making attempts go smoothly if you are moving abroad! There are many difficulties we face as expats and it can definitely be a lot more fun if you have some people around you that are going through the same thing.
I know in Switzerland it can be difficult to make friends with locals because the Swiss (typically) already have very close friend circles and can be hesitant to open up to new people. With that said, the Swiss are very friendly and helpful and they make great friends. In the beginning, being friends with expats and foreigners can be the most comforting and easy solution but I recommend reaching out to local people as well as it is a great cultural experience!
I still have lots of work to do when it comes to making friends in my new country, but I know I will get there!
Thank you all for reading and following along on my expat journey! ❤️