Making friends abroad is one of the hardest parts of expat life for me, and I’ve heard from a lot of you out there who are struggling with the same thing. There are so many reasons that contribute to the difficulty of making friends abroad, but it doesn’t have to be a continuous uphill battle. With a bit of effort, persistence and luck, you’ll be well on your way to creating a social circle in your new home.
Ways for expats to meet new people
First, keep in mind not all of these will work for everyone. If you’re married, you probably shouldn’t be poking around on a dating site. If you don’t have a dog, it might be weird to show up at a dog park. But my list should have at least one area that will work for you. 😉
My biggest tip is to put yourself out there and talk to people ALL THE TIME. If you have a dog, connecting with other dog owners at the park is a great place to start. A simple hello can turn into a few words which can turn into a friendship down the road. Sometimes people will ignore you or just reply to be polite but if you don’t try, nothing will change. Some of my efforts have majorly bombed — like when I made cupcakes for my new neighbors and they looked legitimately frightened — but my point is that I tried.
My list of ways for expats to meet new people:
Language classesIf you’ve moved to a country that doesn’t speak your native tongue, invest in a semester of language classes to both better your language skills and meet new people who are in the same boat as you are. Your desire to learn will unite you with others struggling with the same things. If you have teaching experience, you can also teach English either informally or through a language school.
FB groupsSometimes you don’t need to look much farther than the internet to find people in similar situations. Search for expat groups in your new country and see what turns up.
Local meetup sitesIf you’re looking to meet a friend, try a site like Meetup. In France the free site On Va Sortir is a popular one. Everything from hiking trips to group dinners to one-on-one meetings are posted across a variety of topics. You’ll find someone interested in the same stuff for sure.
Dating sitesSingle? Looking to mingle? Sign up for Attractive World or Expat Dating in France. I hope you find a love connection!
The gymThis one is my favorite because you’re all there to work on your fitness so you already have a conversation starter and something in common. People’s guards are down at the gym so they’re easy to approach. Group fitness classes are where I’ve met all my gym acquaintances, so hit up one in your neighborhood.