I think one of the scariest things people face when looking to move abroad is how they’re going to make friends. I’ve been there so I get it. You’re already worried about where you’re going to live, adjusting to a new language and/or culture, packing everything you’ll need, and you have to worry about making friends on top of all that?! It’s a lot.
Depending on your personality and if you’re more shy or outgoing, this may be easier or harder for you. But either way we’re social beings, regardless of how many social interactions we each may need.
I’ve put together this blog to give you ideas of where and how to meet people, based on how I’ve done it in the past as well. If you’re a student it’ll definitely be easier since you’ll have situations where you’ll already be meeting new people constantly, but you may want to meet people outside these circles. This post includes websites and apps on how to make friends abroad. Let me know in the comments if any of them have helped or what other ways you’ve gone about doing this.
Leveraging your existing network is the best starting off point. Reach out to friends and family who may have visited or lived in this place. Chances are they probably made some friends that wouldn’t mind showing you around and who you’d probably get along with. If stranger danger worries you, this is the safest option as they already know someone you know so it should be less intimidating. You never know where your circle has been until you start asking, they may surprise you!
The best and easiest way to start is with social media, regardless of what platform you use. There are so many pages dedicated to cities/countries that you could browse through. So many people will usually ask for tips and recommendations prior to going. You could answer their comments or slide into their DMs (don’t be creepy though😅). Look up hashtags or what interests you in your future location. Then reach out to people that are posting or commenting on this content. They may either be there soon or live there. If you use Instagram I suggest typing in the city in the search bar and seeing who has it in their profile name. Whether they’re small or large accounts, you can always reach out to say hi or check their comments as I’m sure other people that live there also engage with them.
MeetUp is a website and app that allows you to search by interest or hobbies. It’s a great way to meet like minded individuals doing something you already enjoy. I like to think it breaks the ice and already gives you something to talk about. It’s also a great platform if you’re looking to try something new and may not have anyone to accompany you. If you are looking to improve your language skills, this is the place for you. I’ve found lots of language meetups for all levels and in lots of cities.
Did you know Bumble has a BFF option? I didn’t at first😅. It wasn’t until after I created a Date account that I found this out. It works the same as the date version, you swipe right or left on who you are interested in getting to know better. Either person can start the conversation, unlike the date version where the woman starts it.
There are over 600 million Facebook groups 🤯. I joined so many variations of “Women in Barcelona” groups when I first arrived. In one of these groups, I can’t fully remember which, I met my current roomie. We started talking and met up for a drink one night and ended up bar/club hopping all night. The rest is history. This is a unique case but it could be yours too! It’s all about putting yourself out there and be willing to create lasting friendships. The next time you’ll be somewhere new, try this tip out and search for people in your area.
GreetHer is a web app created to empower women to travel safely and confidently by connecting travelers with verified local “Greeters”. They can be booked for a short or long days and can give you a unique way of getting to know the city. You won’t just make a new friend, but you’ll also have unforgettable experiences with someone that really knows the city you’ll be visiting. I had the opportunity to use this app in both Dublin, Ireland and Antigua, Guatemala. Both times were great and I really enjoyed my time with each Greeter. Plan to use it on your next solo trip!
Go to a cafe or bar
Another tip for those that are much more outgoing is going to a cafe or bar and talking to the people that work there or other patrons that come in and seeing if the conversation clicks. Not everyone may be as open to responding to you, but chances are you’ll never see that person again if it doesn’t work out. I’ve done this a couple times and once I ended up with a job at said cafe in Lima. I made friends with my co workers and with students studying abroad that would stop by during a study break.
Keep in mind
Something to definitely keep in mind is that you will have to put in your time and effort to grow friendships. Some are easy because as people you click and it works, but others can take a bit of time and nurturing. If you’re looking to stay somewhere long term, make sure the people you’re connecting with also have similar goals. There are some cities that are more transitory than others. So it’s good to have that conversation, even for friendships, to know you’re both getting what you’d like out of it.
I hope these tips have been helpful and that you’ll try them on your next trip or your future move abroad. I’ll leave you with something I wish I had told myself years ago, “try things that scare you, you may be surprised at how much stronger you are than you originally thought.” Now go and make some friends abroad!
If living abroad isn’t your thing but you’re looking to travel and get paid for it, then read this post for info on how I’ve done it and how you can do it to.
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Viaja more y live más,