Sunday, October 09, 2011

Making friends...yet again

( This post is dedicated to Fleur who gently reminds me it's time for another post )

No matter the reason...you've recently moved. You've moved to a different city, state, country or continent. You've settled more or less now and as much as you enjoy your own company...you start feeling like you want to have near by friends to do fun things with, spend time with, have a drink, share a hobby.
But how do you make friends...yet again?
Where do you look for the people you would have things in common with?
How do you approach them?

I started writing this post some time ago, from an expat's point of view.
But recently my cousin changed her job and the city she lives in, staying in the same country she grew up in, and a few months later she asked me: 'I start to feel lonely in my new city. You always have so many friends. How do you find them?'
So, it's not just the expats... :)
Truth to be told, I do have many friends.
It's a dream come true, as when I was a child I was very shy and I was often avoided in school.
Now I treasure my acquaintances and friends!
They are my quintessential survival tool as an expat!
They make the world smaller and cozier.

So, here is what I can share 'dissecting' my Face Book Friend's list...and, of course, I have more friends than that :)

About 1/4 of them are former/current colleagues who have become friends of mine.
Another 1/4 are people I met through friends. Friends of friends is the easiest way! But what if you are the new kid on the block?
I hope you find this useful -
I have made 16 friends on Couch Surfing (hosting, surfing, CS events),
15 friends at MeetUp (and similar) events, 12 at Language classes, and 10 while traveling.

CouchSurfing, MeetUp and Language gatherings are best for expats and especially if you are not exactly an extrovert and outgoing person! You could surf with or host people who are similar to you, or attend local CS event to meet the city gang.
MeetUp groups could be dedicated to a hobby, particular sport, food... you name it! And if there is no group in your city, you could start one!
Language classes - not only learn the language of your choice, but meet people with interest in the same culture, or if you are already expat ... meet other expats.
Travel - this is my specialty! I like to chat up people while traveling and before you know it - you have a friend - in a pub, on the plane, in the dorm, on a boat ride...

The rest of my friends are a colorful mix of college-mates, relatives, people I met at community events, etc. The key is - get out, get exposed...you won't make friends by staying home. Unless of course you throw a party and you ask your friends to bring along someone :)
I recently saw a guy in the park - he chatted up a girl, they were both reading books, 2 meters apart...a simple conversation about the weather, origins, travel was followed by exchange of phone numbers.

Some less usual ways of meeting people and making some of my best friends - the guy who's toddler spilled milk on me waiting for my flight, the lady I rented a room from, the nurse in the dermatologist office, my realtor, a couple of on-line dates, the best friend of an ex-BF, the GF of the guy I had a crush on, and a 'one night stand' who somehow turned into a great friend for many years now :)

All it takes is an open mind, a smile and a simple 'Hello!'
At times you would have to repeat it. It takes some patience and a chance to find the people to click with. But it's worth it! I think I have been lucky many times...but then again, I am always open to a new friend and that favors the odds.

Here are some useful links:
www.MeetUp.com - global site for local gatherings
www.CouchSurfing.org - global site for travel-lovers
www.InterNations.org - global site for expats and locals networking events

If you are in the Netherlands, try:
http://www.britsoc.nl
http://www.iamexpat.nl
http://www.insego.com

Good luck! :)


Map of my FB friends

5 comments:

  1. Nice post :). I didn't hear old school or college friends though. In our culture, most people stay away from the exes, too many complications involved ;-).

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  2. This is a really great post, since there are so many people who feel they're lonely, or don't know how to make friends.

    I can now point the lonely Barbarian hordes to this post :-)

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  3. @Rachna Thanks! 'College-mates' was my way of clustering old school and college friends :)

    @Bart By all means, spread the word :) Perhaps I should write a follow up post on how to strike a conversation ?

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  4. Yeah, make it a whole series of posts. This is great =)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Maria! Finally giving your suggestion a serious thought!

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