Sunday, 17 August 2014

Making Friends Abroad

One of the scariest, yet most freeing things, is stepping off that plane, into a new city without knowing a single soul. It's a fresh start. That's how I choose to view it anyway. It's exciting to know your possibilities are endless, that you have no idea who you might meet tomorrow. Yet, at the same time it's terrifying to feel alone. I'm so thankful for skype! Traveling is about being open, to new experiences and new people. 

Here are some ways I make friends in a new city;

1. Get on Meetup 
Meetup is an awesome website. You make a profile then search for groups in your area. I have used Meetup with great success while being an au pair. I met some pretty awesome people. The positive is you are all in the same boat, so it's nice to talk to other expats who understand the struggles of moving abroad. Plus you often find out about activities and events you wouldn't normally realise are on. 

2. Go to church...
I understand church is not everyone's thing. But if you are inclined that way, or even if you're not, why not seek out a church (or any other religious gathering) near you. I have made some of my best friends at churches. Normally people should at least greet you, and from there you can ask about small groups to become part of the church community. 

3. Facebook/online communities
Just do a quick search for your area, for example I found a group on Facebook specifically for Au pairs in Stuttgart. I joined this group and people would post when they were free to hang out. I made a great friend by randomly messaging her after seeing her post on the page, and now we hang out all the time. I also found another group for expats in Stuttgart which had over 10,000 members. 

4. Use any connection you can
If you are in a host family, become friends with your host family's friends, through these people you might meet others who you get along with well. It's all about expanding your social circle. It might seem strange at first to be friends with people 20 years older than you, but you just have to get over it. When I was in the park as an Au pair with my host kid, I would say hello to other nannies and mothers. It was nice to see a familiar face every so often, even if they didn't turn into lasting friendships. Get to know your neighbours if you can, you never know when you could use their help!

5. Just say yes
Say yes to everything. When I first moved to Germany I was going to a running group with my host grandfather. Yep, that's right I was running with the over sixties on Monday nights.  But you know what, it was fun, it forced me out of the house, I saw more of my town and improved my German.

6. Language courses
Language courses are really a win win situation, you meet others learning the language, you bond over the struggles of grammar and you should end up improving your skills...Unless you are like me and end up sitting in class with an Australian talking about MTV. But hey, at least I made a friend. 

7. Enjoy your own company
At the end of the day, sometimes you are just going to have to entertain yourself. Find things you can do alone. I love being alone so it's no problem for me. Grab a book and go to the park, take a walk, get a drink at a cafe, go sightseeing, or to an art gallery, anything to get out of the house. And you never know, you might make a friend along the way. 

Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how to get social. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and exciting things shall happen. And be proud of yourself!