Finding dating advice is easy. But how about advice on finding friends? Maybe you just moved to another city. For love, for work. Or maybe everyone else moved away. How to start from scratch?
Facing this question seriously stressed me out when I first moved from Munich to Vienna. Despite my worries, I ended up meeting three of my best friends within a couple of days. Then I moved to Vancouver and felt at my wit’s end. Being out of school and working from home made it feel impossible to build new relationships. I’m used to having a big network of close friends at home and initially felt lonely and far out of my comfort zone. I knew that this mind set had to change.
Thinking back on how I met my besties back in the day made me realize that one can find a friend in every situation and scenario. Living abroad makes things a little harder. Your network of university and school friends, your neighbourhood friends you used to meet at the same coffeeshop or club every weekend and your colleagues and family – they all live far away. And if you don’t happen to go to school or have colleagues, things get even trickier. This is a topic I am still working on and struggling with myself. I miss my friends at home (and all around the world) on a daily basis. And there is no way around that. But in order to arrive in a new city and feel at home, you need local buddies.
1. Join a Network
To get started in a new place, I recommend trying out “Couchsurfing” Events and “Meetup” Groups. Couchsurfing is not only a network where people sleep on each others sofas. It is also a place where locals offer to take tourists and newbies for coffee, where strangers meet up for pub events and hiking tours or exchange their languages in conversation groups. Meetup offers (mostly) free groups based on different hobbies, interests and language backgrounds and they are job related or activity related (just make sure to check if a group has membership costs). There are events literally every day.
Both platforms are great if you want to explore your new city with other foreigners and locals. Just be aware that some people mistake the platforms for match.com. Make sure you don’t give away your phone number or address before you’ve actually met someone in person.
2. Try New Sports
At the gym or during Yoga class there is not much time to get talking. Team sports and exercise classes like volleyball, dragon boating, soccer, dodgeball, climbing or dancing are more likely to be social gatherings. Urban Rec and a local Community Centre are good resources for classes starting all year around. If you hang with people that enjoy exercise, chances are pretty good that you share an active lifestyle and maybe find out that you have more in common than sports.
3. Join a Club
Whether it’s a crafty group, a wine or beer tasting club, a hiking or discussion group. Joining a group that meets regulary will make you feel more at home because of one good reason: You have a weekly or at least regular time that you spend with new people, which gives you a schedule and less time to get homesick.
4. Learn something new
Going back to (evening) school or taking a seminar will broaden your interests and connect you with interesting people. Keep exploring what you enjoy. There is something for everyone – whether it is knitting, building terrariums, painting, blogging, avalanche training, learning Spanish or Origami Class. Just try. Or teach a class yourself!
A great way to become integrated in the local community is by joining a good cause or event as a volunteer. You will most likely end up in a group of people who are passionate about helping and connecting, which is always a pleasant crowd to be around. Stay proactive and look for fun social events to volunteer at or pick a cause you care about and donate a few hours of your time every month. You will feel good about yourself and learn more about the city and people in your new home. Check out http://govolunteer.ca/ for opportunities in Canada.
Have you moved to a new city and have more ideas? Leave a comment and let us know!