How to make friends in a new city or country
“The hardest part of moving will be making new friends.”
That’s what most people warned me about when we announced we were moving to America. Making friends was going to be tough. And so, I prepared myself for the worst. I prepared myself for a life of solitude (bar my husband), relegated to my apartment, never to find companionship during the working week while I waited for my EAD (employment authorization document) to arrive.
But it turns out, everyone was wrong.
The hardest part for me has been the homesickness. And people don’t talk about it much. But they do talk about the socialising side of things. But never about how isolating it can be, simply about how it’s just difficult to meet new people (the former is far too bleak to be discussed, it seems). So I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve found friends since we arrived.
A few days after moving to Boston, I created a Meetup group for foodies in the Boston/Cambridge area. I didn’t do it with the expectation that hundreds of people would join (we’re currently sitting at 391 Foodies), or that I would make great connections through it. I simply did it because I really wanted to try new cafes and restaurants during my seemingly endless free time, and preferred to be around other foodies. I didn’t expect to meet someone at that first event whom I would spend hours wandering Boston with, nor other wonderful people who have given me countless restaurant recommendations. Meetup.com definitely brings all sorts of people to the table (literally and figuratively), and I’ve actually made some really close friends through it.
Whilst I’m unable to work until my EAD comes through, my husband works at a relatively young, fun company in Somerville. There’s loads of events on, and spouses are encouraged to come along to most of them. A week after we arrived, his company had a retreat with all the employees and their spouses. We met lots of people who went on to become close friends (and yes, we’ve only been here for about six weeks). A lot of the employees have moved interstate to work for the company, so they’re in a similar situation of having left family and friends behind. Being in the same boat means they know how tough it is for us, because they too are going through the mourning process of their previous life back home. If you’re lucky enough to be working, start spending time with your co-workers. Suggest drinks after work, or stretch your legs and get some coffee in you in the afternoon. You never know how much you have in common with the person sitting next to you until you’re chatting outside the office.
Friends of old friends
When we first arrived, I relied heavily on friends of friends, because I didn’t know anyone else. Problem is, just because they’re friends with your friends, doesn’t mean you’ll instantly click. I met with so many friends of friends, and only really felt a connection with a couple of them. Still, push yourself to meet those your friends know, because it’s a great way to have a base when you first arrive, and they may end up being wonderful friends!
There are countless Facebook groups out there. From expat groups to hobby groups, there’s really something for everyone. For example, I joined the Australians in Boston Group, the Boston Bloggers Group, and the Boston Business Women Group (where I was able to find volunteer work). Through each of these groups, I’ve found people who share the same passions as me, the same background as me, and the same drive as me. And it’s been wonderful meeting up with people from these groups and finding how much we have in common! And don’t be shy! People will generally welcome you with open arms, and will be happy to help you out.
It was a rocky start for me in so many ways, but making friends has been relatively easy. And whilst it may not be easy for everyone (I’m super extroverted), there are so many ways to make new friends in a new city or country.
How have you made new friends in a new city/country? What has been the strangest way you’ve made a new friend?