5 Tips for Finding Friends as an Expat
Expats love living abroad for a multitude of reasons – being able to experience a new culture, eating delicious cuisine, and living in beautiful cities. But one common problem for expats is that it can be difficult to make friends in a new place, especially if there’s a language barrier.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to meet new people. Below are some of our top tips to help you find friends as an expat.
Take Hobby Classes
Taking a class to learn a new hobby or to sharpen your skills for a hobby you already enjoy can be a great way of meeting new people. Not only will you already have something in common but meeting new people whilst taking part in another activity can ease the pressure of talking to someone one-on-one.
Most cities will have plenty of classes available for all sorts of activities, like photography, pottery, and life drawing. Even smaller towns will likely have some classes on offer, although you might have less choice in what activity you take part in. Still, it will be a great opportunity to learn a new skill and make some new connections with both locals and other expats.
Join a Sports Team or Club
As well as more creative activities, most places will have plenty of sports clubs or teams that you can join. These will often include a variety of different types of sports, so you can find something that fits your speed, whether you enjoy jogging, playing football, rock climbing, or yoga. By taking part in a class or joining a team, you can make friends that have similar interests to you, as well as bonding quickly if you’re part of a team.
A lot of sports teams and clubs also hold social events outside of the sporting activity, which can help to make better connections and give you a chance to find some firm friends. Some places may have more sporting options than others, so make sure to check your local area to see what’s available. If your usual favourite sport isn’t on offer, you could use the opportunity to learn a new one!
Take a Course to Learn the Local Language
You might already know the basics of the local language when you move there, and you’ll pick up more as you go about your day-to-day life. But it’s always a good idea to hone those language skills more, so it could be really beneficial to take a course to learn the local language. By doing this, you can make sure you can converse better with the locals and make deeper connections with others.
As well as helping to make friends by speaking the language, you could also make connections with other students who are learning the language in the class. They’ll also likely have moved abroad and might also be looking to make new friends.
Join Online Groups
There are lots of online groups, through social media and other websites, that can help expats make friends in a new place. Some will be for expats from a particular country living in a specific area, whilst others will be open to all expats in that area. Online groups can be a great way to find other people who are looking to make new connections, whether you have a common interest of being from the same country or just living in the same place!
Online groups give everyone an opportunity to almost screen people before meeting in person, so you can chat online to make sure you’ll have plenty to talk about before taking the next step.
Sometimes you might be able to make friends at work, by reaching out to other colleagues – but in some countries there’s more of a distinction between work and social life, so this can be difficult. An alternative would be to volunteer for an organisation that means something to you and meet new people that are also volunteering. You’ll likely find that people who volunteer are at least happy to talk about the organisation and why it’s important to them, and then deeper connections could spring from there.
As well as meeting other volunteers, it could give you an opportunity to get out into the local community and learn more about your new home.
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