Let’s face it, making new friends is difficult. And placing yourself in a new country– where you have a mediocre command of the language- can make the process of making new friends even more complicated.
Yet, rest assured, you will not be friendless forever! And if you’re still a little anxious about transitioning to a new country without a close squad, I’ve got a few tips to help you along the way…
Keep an open mind.
When I first started out in my study abroad experience, I was quite sick. So while everyone was exploring the city and becoming forming new friendships with our group of American students and the locals, I was counting down the hours to make it outside to walk the dogs. However, this quickly taught me to be open about my new friends.
You see, your friends can be your host family, the neighbors you see when you get the mail, or even your host brother’s dog. Your friends don’t have to be the same type of people that you have back home.
In fact, they shouldn’t be. You’re in a new place and you’re changing as a person through the whole process of moving. So keep an open mind- you’ll never know who will be your next best friend!
You is kind. You is smart. You is important. And, you are a fun person that many people would love to have as a friend. Be confident in who you are, and people will see that and seek friendship.
So many of my friends spent their nights Netflix binging, or scrolling through social media. While it is important to keep up with friends back home, it’s also important to get outside of your tiny bedroom and experience every bit of your new life.
When you’re outside and around, who knows who you’ll run into! Go dancing in Cordoba and hiking in Ronda. Be where the people are. And if you have to, start by eating alone.
One of my first friends was actually a man who happened to play fetch with his dog in the same plaza that I did most of my journaling. While we don’t keep in touch, I enjoyed the weekly conversations with my new amigo de la Plaza de Virreina and I’m thankful for.
Try new things
On another strain of ~confidence~ … try new things! Participate in a language exchange. Go on a group excursion to the mountains or the beach. While abroad, I chose to be an English tutor, and made friends with the Spanish students in my classes.
Or explore, your passions in a new light. Enroll in a photography class. Join a local gym, sports club, swimming group, painting class… you get the picture. One of my friends met her boyfriend at a running club (and they’ve been together for two years!).
Strike up a conversation
I get it. A new place often means a new language, as well as every anxiety that goes along with speaking that new language out loud. But I promise you, speaking up will pay off.
Go to a bar, and strike up a conversation with the bartender. Actually converse with the people in the group project you’ve been assigned to. And even if you stumble through your words, chances are the other person you’re talking to has struggled through a language in their own lives.
Last but not least, be patient. Remember when you first started school, or were dropped off that first day in college? Look at you now, leaving friends behind in your home country.
Making friends takes time. And that’s okay. You’ll be group travelling in no time.
Do you have any tips for making new friends in a new city?