It can be very daunting making the big move overseas. Leaving your social networks in your home town can be difficult and it can take a while to make new friends as an expat.
Firstly, it is useful to seek out connections before you leave that you can meet up with when you arrive in your new home. It is a great comfort to expats to know that there is someone they have a link with when they arrive in an alien country. Chat to other expats on forums and websites while you are preparing to move and make notes of their tips, advice and contacts since this can be the start of some great adventures. Tell all your friends and neighbours at home where you are planning to move to as they might have a contact they can put you in touch with. Then, when you arrive you can organise to meet with them and start to build connections. You never know where meeting one new person can take you!
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One thing that helps when trying to make friends as an expat is learning the local language so you can talk to local people. This is especially important if the people in your new country do not tend to speak the same language as they did at home as it is the key to communicating. However, if you don’t manage to pick up the lingo before you arrive in your new home, even just knowing how to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ can be a great start. By engaging with locals in their native tongue you can immediately begin to get acquainted with your neighbours. They might even speak a bit of your language, or be able to introduce you to someone who does. Plus, you could always join a language class to meet some fellow expats who you can practice your new language with!
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A great way to make friends is to find out whether there is an international network in your town, or a meeting forum for expats as there often is in expat hotspots. This is a great way to meet people who you will have a lot in common with. Moving abroad can be a great opportunity to take up a new hobby. This can help you to immerse yourself in the local community and to enjoy spending time with other people. There may be some unusual activities that are practiced in your destination. You can engage in the local activities such as dragon boating in Hong Kong or surfing in Sydney as a way to meet other expats doing the same, or a local who is doing what they love.
One of the main ways expats meet people is through their daily activities. If you have children, invite other kids their age round to play together. You will inevitably end up getting to know their parents. Attend school events such as fairs, sport games and meetings and you will start chatting to other parents and members of the local community. You can also make friends through work. Joining in team meetings, training group and going for drinks after work can result in you making a new friend. It can take time to build relationships with people from work but if you put some effort in you can meet some great people that you share common interests with.
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For new expats, the most important thing to remember is that you will make friends, it just might take a bit of time and effort. Say ‘yes’ to all the invites and opportunities that come your way as participation is key and getting involved is the first step to meeting people and making friends.
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