One of the most difficult aspects of moving to a new country is leaving friends behind. Many people find themselves unable to enjoy their new environment because they miss their friends. People can feel very alone after a move and may not feel comfortable exploring their new surroundings on their own. These emotions just seem to add to the feeling of being somewhere new.
If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone. People who return to their home country within six months of the initial move cite missing friends as one of the main reasons for their return.
After a permanent move it can take up to a year to really begin to settle in your new country. However, the quicker you meet people and become involved in activities, the easier and sooner it can be to settle.
Here are just a few ways to make new friends and to start enjoying your new environment. If you have already been in the country for a while you may have already made friends in which case perhaps you can use these ideas to find new activities or make more friends.
- Make the decision that you really want to find friends. This may seem obvious, but without having made this conscious decision, finding friends will feel like a chore. You will need a state of mind that leads you to want to go out and explore your possibilities. Without having made this conscious decision you will not be inspired to start looking for new friends. This may seem difficult at first in a new environment, but it may help to know that there are many people who feel the same way and who would also like to make friends.
- Find a hobby or a class that you have always wanted to attend and enrol. You will find classes listed in your local paper or on the internet. If you live in an apartment building there may even be a notice board. Classes are a great way to meet like-minded people. Classes also give you the opportunity to ease-in to meeting others. In a class setting you can decide how much you wish to participate and talk with others.
- Arrange a barbecue or any other relaxing event for your neighbours. They will be curious to meet you and it's always good to know who your neighbours are. If you live in a shared community then arranging an event will be quite easy. You may be surprised how many other people are also hoping to meet others in the area.
- You can contact your local embassy for information regarding international communities. International magazines list communities and you can find international groups on the internet.
- Join an exercise group. This has a number of benefits: You will have the opportunity to meet people, you will be improving your health, and exercise reduces stress.
- If you are invited to a local event take the opportunity to attend. You never know who you may meet or what you may discover about the local community.
Remember you are not alone; there are many others who feel the way you do. The people you meet on your journey could end up becoming great friends. Don't let opportunities to meet some amazing people pass you by. Have fun making many new friends.
Kama J. Frankling has been a happy migrant and expat for over 28 years. She runs a coaching company called The Happy Migrant.