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One of the major changes that most people have to deal with when moving abroad is leaving their established social life behind and trying to start a new one. This is an important part of feeling at home in a new country, so be sure to dedicate time to it, but be aware that things will not fall into place immediately.
Plant the foundations of your new social life before you have even moved in order to give yourself the best start. This means that you will be able to hit the ground running when you arrive.
Do a bit of research into the expatriate groups that are available in your new town and let the ones that interest you know that you are coming. They will all have been in a similar position themselves and understand the importance of a warm welcome.
Become active on expat forums and social networking sites. This will help to build up contacts prior to your move and put many of the fears you have to rest. It will also make you aware of any relevant events that will be held once you are in your new country.
Starting afresh in a new country can be stressful, but among all of the unpacking and organising dedicate some time to social activities. Join the sports and hobbies clubs that you read about before the move. These will help to give you a sense of routine.
Be sure to present an open and friendly demeanour to the world, which will help people to approach you and become friends. Introduce yourself to all of your colleagues so they know that you are a sociable person, as this can lead to invitations and a wider group of acquaintances.
Keep your eyes open
Information about events can be found all over the place, from local newspapers to notice boards and even lampposts. Keep an eye open to spot these opportunities and be brave by making yourself attend them. You never know who you might meet.
Socialise with expats and locals
Expat communities can be wonderful, supportive places, but it is also good to get to know some locals. This can be harder to achieve, but is a good way to feel at home in a place. Visit cafes on your own, as this means people are more likely to approach you.
Take a book and linger over a cup of coffee. Returning to the same place a few times may spark up a conversation with members of staff and busy times can mean that people sit at the spare seats on your table. These are all potential new friends.
Host a gathering
Once you have made a few friends and got your house in order, invite your new acquaintances round for drinks or a meal. This will not only cement the relationships you have already made, but also give your new friends the opportunity to bring along people who you may get on well with.
Set up a club
If you found that there weren't many clubs to join when you arrived then set one up yourself. You are bound to find that other expats are grateful to you for your efforts. Or it may be that a particular hobby you enjoy is not catered to.
Fill this niche and before you know it you will be knitting, reading or baking with a group of like-minded people. Invite the friends you have already made to come along to get it started, but also advertise widely.
This means making the most of the same forums, social networking sites, newspapers, notice boards and lampposts that you kept your eye on earlier in the process. The success of your own club will help to secure you as an important part of the local social scene.
Slow and steady
Remember that building a social life in a new country is a slow process and do not put too much pressure on yourself. It is better to build up relationships over time to establish good connections that will last.
It is likely that your friends will be different to the ones you have at home, but try not to compare. Also take into consideration the culture of your new home, so things like alcohol may need to take a backseat, and never put yourself in an unsafe situation.
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