Travelers and expats spending time in a new country have been advised on the most effective ways to meet people and nurture new friendships abroad. The team behind online remittance service Remitly, have revealed their top tips for how to make friends in a new country.
Moving abroad can be a very daunting experience, and even traveling in new countries comes with its challenges. Meeting new people that either know the area or are in a similar boat can make the process less intimidating and much more enjoyable.
From finding expat events and immigrant communities to signing up for language classes and simply saying ‘yes’ to every new opportunity that comes your way, there are solutions to suit every type of person – including extroverts and introverts.
A spokesperson for Remitly said:
“Making friends as an adult is hard, but making friends abroad is even harder. Aside from the potential language barrier, you’re also a cultural ‘outsider’, so it can take some time to get the lay of the land and for you to feel settled.
“To help people feel comfortable living and traveling in new places, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite tips to meet like-minded people and build lasting relationships in a new country.”
Here are nine tips for meeting people and making friends in a new country:
Network through social media and personal connections
Ask friends back home if they know anyone in your area. Most people won’t usually jump at the chance to show a stranger around, but that often changes as soon as you mention a personal connection.
Ask around for anyone who might know someone in your new home, and make a public post on social media too.
Find expat events and immigrant communities
Look for expat groups on social media sites like Facebook, or search online for local cultural centers for immigrant communities. Even if they’re not from the same country or culture as you, other foreigners are more likely to be looking for friends and ready to bond over your experiences in the new country.
Sign up for a language class
If your new country doesn’t share your native language, this strategy is perfect for making friends abroad.
Most language classes aimed at immigrants meet often and involve lots of basic conversation practice. Ask around for freelance teachers on local social network groups to find affordable, small classes. If you’re a resident in your new country, check with local immigration or residency offices, as many countries will pay for part or all of your language classes, at least at the beginner level.
Say ‘yes’ at every opportunity
In order to make new friends, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Try to say ‘yes’ to invitations and new experiences, as you never know where they will take you or who you will meet.
Even if you’re invited to something that you don’t immediately think is up your street, take a chance. This means showing up to events you’d probably never go to back home. If you don’t enjoy it, you never have to do it again, but you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome and glad that you went.
Learn more about your new country’s culture
Once you learn how to navigate through your new country’s culture, language, history, and politics, it should give you a better understanding of its people and social customs. Learn as much as you can about your new home and keep an open mind.
Try friendship apps
If you’re an introvert, you may prefer this option. There are plenty of apps available now that have been built with the sole purpose of meeting new people and making new friends. Some examples include Nextdoor, Meetup, Bumble BFF, and Hey! Vina.
Join a hobby club or sports team
Committing to a weekly hobby group is a great way to force yourself to socialize, and have fun whilst doing so. There are always sports clubs looking for teammates, and you don’t have to master the local language to find comrades on the sports field.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are a thousand other options: knitting clubs, book clubs, amateur theater, hiking groups, and maybe even a local activity you’d never be able to try back home.
Finding hobby classes is easy with the help of Google. Most countries and large cities have their own online platforms where organizations can post local classes too.
Volunteer with an organization you care about
Whatever you’re passionate about, you can settle into your new country and build friendships through volunteering. You’ll be working alongside others who share similar values, and you’ll have plenty to talk about between activities – it’s a win-win!
When you volunteer, you get to meet other people like yourself that are clearly generous and want to help others – qualities that are important in forming great friendships. Another added bonus to volunteering is the fact that you’ll be learning job skills that look great on a resume.
Remember to be safe
Although it’s great to be proactive and open to meeting new people, don’t put yourself at risk. Meet up in public spaces, and never give your address out to people you don’t know and trust. If your gut says something doesn’t feel right, trust it!