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How to Make Friends When Moving Abroad – Different Habits That Make or Break Relations With Locals

Amelia Mead June 12, 2017
Posted June 12, 2017 In Living Abroad, Moving Tips&Tricks,
Amelia Mead

Originally from Chicago, currently everywhere, Amelia is a freelance writer working on bringing all the moving tips to you.

About 10 million Americans moved out of the country and now live in other countries. And figuring out how to make friends when moving abroad was something each and every one of them had to learn on their own. Because we don’t want you to struggle the same way many of our compatriots had to, we’ve collected all the best tips on finding buddies when moving countries.

How to Make Friends When Moving Abroad?

While moving internationally is a beautiful undertaking, it can be difficult at times too. You’re changing your entire surroundings, including your social circle and your job or school. Not to mention that you’re leaving your family behind.  And as the saying ”out with the old, in with the new” proposes, you’ll have to gather a completely novel friendship circle. And although you are embarking on an exciting trip where you’ll get to create a completely different life, leaving your safety net when you move across the world is never easy.

One of the probably toughest things, especially for those who have a strong friendship group back home, is creating or finding a social circle they will enjoy just as much. And while it can take time to make pals in another country, trust us when we tell you that sooner or later you will. Especially if you use our tips meant to help you start this next chapter of life in a social and fun manner. So, get ready to read about the following:

  • Meeting buddies through folks you already know,
  • Joining or starting a community online,
  • Experiencing cultural shock,
  • Participating in events and activities,
  • Getting to understand the locals.

See If Your Current Friends Can Help You Connect to New Folks

The easiest way to forge friendships is surely by relying on your old buddies. Having your long-time besties connect you to other folks is not only convenient but wise too. Hear us out: if a person is already close to someone you are as well, there’s a greater chance the two of you will become mates too. Not only will the two of you already have probably heard about each other, but there is a chance you will soon find out just how many shared interests and opinions about the world you have.

And, this way of socializing can also be considered an ultimate relocation hack for anyone afraid they will lose touch with pals back home. If you want to kill two birds with one stone: that is, make buddies while keeping in touch with old mates, there’s no route to take that is more certain than this one. You and your old pals will always have fresh topics to talk about (some might call it gossip, but we don’t judge,) and you might start an international friend group that will encompass all your homies.

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It’s Always Easier to Make Friends if You Know a Native

If your main task is to get embedded in a local community, you’ll want to start your search by getting to know locals through your other buddies. For example, if your bestie studied in one of the best European cities for college students, they might have a former school buddy with whom you now share zip codes with. Not only will a native connect you more easily to other folks from there, but they can show you around all the best places you probably wouldn’t see otherwise.

The Internet Can Be a Great Way to Build a Community

There are many countries that can be considered among the best places for life but are at the same time difficult to socialize in. A study conducted by InterNations shows that in certain countries it is more difficult to begin a friendship. The study actually confirmed that places like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland, which are commonly considered the best countries to live abroad, are not as highly rated when it comes to socializing.

Although the Scandinavian countries provide great living conditions, labor safety, good education, and affordable healthcare (all of which improve your quality of life significantly,) they definitely aren’t considered the friendliest countries in the world. And you may have all the riches, but they won’t mean as much if you don’t have someone to share them with. That is why, especially in countries where it can be hard to get to meet folks in real-time, you might want to look for buddies online.

Try Finding People Who Are Passionate About the Same Things You Are

Start your online scouting by finding folks and communities who share your passions and interests. This could mean finding a group to discuss anything from hobbies to political views and interests. For example, if you are a leftist moving to Austria, you might want to meet people who share your political views. Or, if you choose to move to Switzerland, you can join a hiking community and spend your Saturdays expanding both your social and real horizons. The key is to search for those communities that have both an offline and online presence so that you assure your friend-making abilities don’t stay captured behind a screen.

Joining Your Local Expat Community Is a Great Cure for Nostalgic Days

While as a person whose native language is English you won’t have much trouble finding someone to talk to (unless you move to France,) true understanding doesn’t come only from speaking the same language. Just because someone can comprehend what you are saying doesn’t mean that they share your cultural background.

And sometimes, when the nostalgia hits in, you just want someone who’ll understand you completely. That’s why it’s great to find a local community as soon as you move to a city – and the easiest way to do that is online. Among expats, you’ll find not only potential pals but compatriots who can help you find your path in this different context. And among the 10 million Americans living all over the world, you’ll surely find some to connect with. And you’ll have the best chance to meet expats if you move to Mexico, decide to immigrate to neighboring Canada, or even India, the Philippines, or Germany.

To Make Friends With Locals, You Must Immerse Yourself In the Local Life

Moving overseas is all fun and games until you start thinking about how strange everyone is. And that’s a completely normal reaction to a change. Once you relocate, the cultural shock settles in: you move to Vietnam and can’t get yourself to understand how the locals eat scorpions. Or, you might move to the United Kingdom and find yourself in a strange situation where you have to pay 0.50 pounds to use a bathroom.

And it’s normal that you find yourself in shock while encountering a different culture – after all, that’s surely a part of the reason you moved. However, if you want to mix with the locals, after a few days or even weeks, it’s time to start embedding yourself in the local life and experience all these things that are now just exotic and weird, whether it’s paying for the loo or exchanging street vendors with burritos for those with snakes.

Understanding the Native Language Will Help You Tons In a New Surroundings, And You Might Even Make New Friends While Learning It

The first step to getting settled in your new life is getting to learn the language. You won’t always have to break the language barrier, but if you plan on relocating to Europe, you should consider starting a language class. While a considerable number of citizens in almost any country speak and understand English, you won’t always have someone by your side to translate street signs, help you get the right cigarettes, or order coffee for you. Additionally, speaking the same way locals do will make socializing much easier. And who knows, if you take a course you might find a friend in a similar situation to yours. If you feel like taking a course would be too much for your wallet to endure, check out the following tips on learning languages all by yourself.

Meeting People Is Much Easier When You Join Clubs and Take On New Activities

A great way to encounter folks you haven’t already met is by participating in activities, and anyone who ever moved to Canada with a pet can second that. However, if you don’t have a pet or a kid to take out to the park and meet and socialize with their parents, you might want to take a different route.

In case you aren’t going to move with pets, consider starting a sport, like yoga or mountain climbing, where it won’t be as difficult to become a part of a community. Or, if you are more of an artsy person, you might want to take part in painting classes or a course in making china. And all those musicians out there shouldn’t think twice about blessing a church choir or an orchestra with their talents. Not only will you get a fresh outlet to express your inner world but you might come across some future buddies too.

Research Local Events And Find a Fun One to Participate In

Moving overseas can strip you of your favorite places and outings. You might be a big fan of an annual music or film festival in your town but now find yourself having to find different events that’ll feel like home. Other than being great ways to stay on top of your interests, fresh events can help you expand your horizons and get some fresh hobbies. All those foodies moving to Brussels should definitely visit one of their world-renowned food festivals. And if you plan to live in Germany, get ready to drink mulled wine on Christmas markets. You might even volunteer at the Toronto Film Festival and start friendships with volunteers over watchlist recommendations.

You Might Even Be Brave Enough to Throw an Event Like a Yard Sale or Barbecue and Meet Your Neighbors

Last but not least, you should consider throwing an event yourself. We get that it can be scary to throw a housewarming when you don’t know anyone, but in some cultures, for example in Arab countries, it’s completely common to invite your neighbors over for a barbecue. And while you might think that yard sales are an American tradition, you might be surprised by similar traditions in other countries. If you move to Scotland, you’ll recognize them by the name of car boot sales, while in France they are called brocantes or vide greniers. While there might be some difference in how these are run across cultures, you’ll surely find something similar to how you remember garage sales back home.

Don’t Presume You Know Everything About a Culture Just Because You’ve Watched a Few Movies

All of us have an idea of a culture prior to actually experiencing it. However, you shouldn’t expect that what you’ve acquired from the media is what you’ll get when you arrive there. If you plan on moving to India, for example, don’t expect that Bollywood is what you’ll get. While the vibrancy and colorfulness of Hindi culture might be a true outtake from these movies, you would be wrong to, for example, think that Hindi is the only language people in India speak. Actually, you would be excluding over 20 official languages and worldviews that come with them. So, if you plan on living abroad, make sure you get there with an open mind and an open heart.

You Will Easily Connect With People Abroad If You Make an Effort to Understand Their Cultural Perspective

Rather than packing your presumptions together with your travel documents, you would be much better off leaving your preconceptions back home. The best route to understanding a different culture is by experiencing its traditions and people firsthand. Other than participating in common practices and events, you should also spend some time and effort in talking to locals. You would be surprised by how much you might be able to learn from an Ordinary Joe. Truth be told, there’s no better way to find out more about a culture than from those who’ve lived their entire lives in it.

Once You’ve Decided You’re Ready to Make Foreign Friends, Call Up an International Moving Company to Help You Out With Moving Abroad

Now that you know how to go about socializing in a new place, you can get to shipping your vehicle overseas along with other belongings. And what better way to do so than by hiring an overseas shipping company to provide you with packing service and to later help you move internationally? International relocation is no simple task, so getting extra hands on the job is really important. To gather all relevant information on overseas relocation, we recommend contacting an overseas moving company. They’ll answer all the questions you may have and can even give you a free quote while you’re at it.



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