Arriving to a new country can feel a bit lonely in the beginning. So how do you cope during these first few weeks, and how do you build up your network?
Of course, this depends on what brought you to the country you moved to in the first place.
In my case, I moved to Germany to eventually join a Masters degree program. Thankfully, back in 2010 there were not that many social media platforms yet. It was either CouchSurfing or Facebook when it came to finding new people to hang out with. So that is exactly what I did. Went online, pimped up my profiles, and so began the search for the perfect new acquaintance to take me out for coffee and show me the capital of the Euro (Frankfurt am Main, in case you haven’t read my intro).
With the intention to learn German, I was determined to meet native speakers so I could start practicing ASAP (which I obviously didn’t. It took me some years to actually speak it). I remember looking into the different CS profiles, making sure the photos and descriptions didn’t look questionable. In the end, I picked a guy and a girl and met them separately. And I picked well. Both became really good friends of mine and introduced me to their network. Later on, once I started attending German classes, got a job and started going to the university, I was able to make my own friends and build my own network, my own tribe.
Of course, life happens. Friends come and go. Yet, I can still say that the boy who took me for coffee back then is still one of my dearest friends. By the way, after 7 years, we still don’t speak German to each other… I guess it’s hard to switch the language after so long.
So, fast forward to right this very moment. You’re new in town. How do you start meeting people?
There are a bunch of webpages for newbies (and not so newbies) that inform you about events happening in your town that most of the international community attend to. In Frankfurt, I recommend this one and this one. You can always search for your city plus the word “expats” or “new in __” and you will definitely get a few results.
2. Meetup & Internations
I discovered meetup.com not that long ago and I love it. It is a worldwide community of people looking to meet up with locals or expats. Simply sign up and look for meetups in your town. There are all kinds of meet ups, from book clubs, yoga and meditation groups to “§$%ck up nights”, so it caters to all tastes 🙂
Internations on the other hand is more of a professional networking website for expats. I personally found the meetings and events a bit too posh for my taste, but hey! it might just be your thing.
3. Take a class
Either at your nearest gym, salsa studio, yoga studio, language school, whatever rocks your boat. Simply get out of your comfy comfort zone and expose yourself to the awkwardness of being the newbie in the group. Show up, smile (not creepily though), open up and let it flow. You will not only have tons of fun doing something you enjoy but also, maybe, meet someone you really resonate with.
4. Try a tandem
Tandem is basically meeting up with someone who speaks a language you want to learn, who wants to learn the language that you speak. There are tons of groups on Facebook (or at your local language school) where you can arrange a meeting. It is fun and if things get too complicated you can always (or at least most of the times) switch to english.
5. Go for your hobby
If there is something that you are already very much into, such as hiking or doing yoga, excelente! It is much easier to find your tribe this way as you will immediately click and have something to talk about (in case you’re one of the ones that have trouble with chit-chat). It will also be much easier to find a group online that you will feel comfortable with. Just google or search on the websites I mentioned earlier and voila! I am sure you will be super networked in no-time.