For anyone who has lived abroad, that feeling of being a stranger in a strange land is familiar. All your toolkit to make friends and have fun with people might not be applicable there. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Making friends as an expat can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. You just need to know where to look and how to approach people. If you’re feeling lonely or homesick, these 7 ways can help you make new friends in no time at all.
1. Your local expat association
Your local expat association is one of the best ways to meet other people with similar interests and goals. These groups can be found on social media, or through your local embassy.
The advantage of these associations is that they often have regular events, so you will know when and where to find people with similar interests. In addition, they usually have a variety of events so you will always find something happening near you!
2. Find a language exchange partner
If you’re looking for someone to practice with, language exchange partners are a great way to meet people. You can find them on social media or use an app like HelloTalk, which connects you with native speakers around the world who want to learn your native language and help you learn theirs.
To find a language exchange partner, search for “language exchange” on Facebook or Twitter. You can also join groups on Meetup or Couchsurfing that focus on this topic. Once you find someone, set up a time and place to meet in person (a coffee shop or park works well) and then take turns chatting with each other in different languages. You may even discover that you have more in common than just language — after all, we’re all humans at the end of the day!
3. Join an expat women’s group or social club
If you’re a woman who is new to an area, especially one that has a large expat community, seek out an expat women’s group or social club. These groups provide a way for women to meet and form friendships as well as share experiences and advice on living abroad. You can find these groups on Meetup or Couchsurfing; if you see any events happening in your city, attend and introduce yourself!
4. Connect with others on social media
Social media is great for making connections with people from around the world — especially when they live far away from where you live now! You can share photos of your adventures and experiences with each other, find out about events going on in their city or country, and even plan meet-ups so that you see each other in real life.
Beyond sharing photos, you can also post videos of your daily life and share them with friends. This is a great way to show what life is like in another country—and it gives people who live there the chance to see how other people’s lives differ from their own!
5. Volunteer with a cause that speaks to you.
Many people volunteer because they want to give back or help someone less fortunate than themselves. Volunteering is an excellent way for expats to meet other people who are interested in making an impact on the world around them. Not only will volunteering help you make friends, but it will also help you feel more connected to your new country and city of residence.
6. Engage in sports and hobbies
If there’s one thing that brings people together like nothing else, it’s a shared interest. And when you’re living abroad, chances are there will be at least one sport or hobby that appeals to you — even if it’s not something that would normally catch your eye. So find out what locals are into and join them! It doesn’t matter if you’re terrible at their sport or their hobby; just being willing to try is enough for most people (and if others see how much effort you put into learning something new, they may end up liking you).
7. Get a job
This might seem obvious, but finding employment is the first step toward making friends as an expat. While some jobs are better suited for making friends than others, most will put you in the company of other people who share your interests (and possibly your nationality).
If a work-from-home job is what you’re looking for, and want to make friends while doing so—start video podcasting. This is a great way to meet new people and make friends. You can also start a blog, which will give you an opportunity to share your ideas and thoughts with others.
There is no telling what awaits you when you move to a new country. You may dislike your new home, or the food, or maybe even the weather. Regardless of where you are, there is still one thing that is SO important to get right when living abroad: making friends. Friendships are valuable for everybody, but in your new location, they will feel particularly like a saviour if you need help with navigating local customs and laws.