There are many challenges living abroad but the one common thing that most people are scared about is being by themselves. To leave your hometown, your comfort zone and your already established network of friends and family is not an easy thing to do. It can be frightening, and nerve-wrecking and takes courage and motivation.
Every time I move to a new city each year, I’m constantly having to start from ground zero. I need to make new friends, adapt to new environments, and be exposed to both culture and language shock. When you are not fluent in the local language, it becomes even more difficult to make a connection and to be included in their circle of friends.
So here are a few strategies I have used to meet new people and friends abroad:
- Meet Up - Whether I am at home in Toronto, or abroad, I always look up for Meet Up groups to find new friends with similar interests. There are so many groups available and that has already been created all over the world. This includes language exchange, going to the arts or even finding expats, and whatever your interests are, there is most likely going to be a group for you!
- Conversation Exchange - No matter where you are, remember that you always have something you can offer to others. The one thing we all have in common is that we have a language that we speak fluently and so, you can offer your services to teach people your native language. While abroad, I always exchange English for a language I wish to learn and if you are a native English speaker, this is a valuable asset! Don’t forget we can always learn from each other and we all can offer our gifts and talents as a conversation starter.
- Jobs / Volunteer / Classes – Besides meeting external people from the Internet, you can always make friends from volunteering, your day job and even extracurricular activities. Just working together in a similar organization already creates an instant bond because you have similar interests to work there. For example, if you are working for a non-profit organization, it is very likely people in the organization really cares about the cause more than the money. Taking side jobs can even get more exposure to building your network and the local culture and I’ve found myself surrounded by people with similar age.
So far in Hong Kong, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of people through all these means combined. From meeting people through jobs and language exchange services to working at a university and college, I feel I’m learning more about the Hong Kong culture each day.
Do you have any other ideas in how to make new friends?
Everyone has a story.
This is mine.