For many of you, the holiday season is coming up. Especially if you moved abroad with your partner or your family, you might start getting a little pensive and missing your old friends from back home. Our guest author Paul has a couple of helpful tips on how you can make new friends abroad more easily.
As you start to blend in a new city, you start to realize how critical it is to build your social circle. You feel like it’s an essential element of your success and happiness in the new community. And you probably get more sensitive to this around holidays and your birthday.
But, that fantasy of being entirely integrated, with a group of friends that support you, celebrate with you, and make your life more fun and animated, is probably easier to have than you think. Now is the time to stop just fantasizing about it, and start to actually do something; this article will help you start right.
The Key to Success Is to Adopt New Social Habits
If you look closer into the lives of socially successful people, you’ll see that they don’t socialize and get in touch with people once in a while … they do it on a regular basis. The key to success here is repetition.
This is the case because making friends is not a mechanical activity. What you do with one friend will be different from what you do with another. No two relationships are the same. This is why you need to have add the simple tweaks to your habits, and these will get you the friends you want. The ideal situation is to implement these weekly and monthly habits in a way that fits with the rest of your life.
As an expat, the most important part is that you take ownership and control over your social life, instead of leaving it to chance. This means that you get conscious and curious about friendship and how it works; consciously make time, every week, for meeting new people, staying in touch, and hanging out with them.
Step One – Make a Habit of Meeting New People
Let’s face it, you won’t become friends with all the people you meet, no matter how skilled or interesting you are. Not everyone will be compatible with your personality or your style. Add to that the fact that many people have too many friends already and can’t handle any more.
This is why it’s not enough to go meet new people once in a while and expect those friendships to stick. You need to be doing it regularly in order to find the best people for you. This is why I suggest that you develop a monthly habit of going out and meeting people. Of course, you can do this with your Local InterNations Community. You can also look for other communities around specific areas of interest, like business, sports, or hobbies.
The most important thing is to not make this “something you do when you have time”. Just put a reminder in your calendar with the events’ dates, and consider it part of your life. If you only do it when you’re pumped, then it won’t work – you have to attend, month-in and month-out.
Step Two – Make a Habit of Connecting Up Your Friends
It’s a fact: people prefer to hang out in groups of more than two, especially around the weekend. Let’s say that a certain John has three friends that don’t know each other (group 1) and three others that know and usually hang out with each other (group 2).
Let’s say that it’s the weekend and John wants to go out; what do you think is easier for him to do? Call the folks in group 1 and see if he can manage to get them all to have the same plans … or call one of the people in group 2 and just jump in whatever plan they already have. After all, the folks in group 2 are friends and might be doing something together anyway. From my experience, most people will go with group 2 and contact those who are already connected with others, because it’s much easier, and more likely to lead to fun and interesting experiences.
This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed if you don’t have any friends yet. It just means that you need to gather up the people you meet, and introduce them to each other. All you have to do is get them to meet once or twice, form small circles of three to four people, and the rest will take care of itself.
If you want to make it even easier for you to blend in a new country, it’s best to connect with both locals and experienced expats. This is important because the social circle that you’ll have will include people with different perspectives. If you only hang out with locals, you might feel very different from them; but if you also hang out with other expats, at the same time, it makes it more natural for you to share your unique experiences, without feeling alienated. But don’t limit yourself to the “expat bubble” only!
This will make your social life much easier, as these people will connect and start to suggest plans on their own. You won’t have to be the one making all the calls and arrangements.
I hope you’re starting to realize that making friends and building a friend circle is much simpler and easier than it seems. Making friends is a skill, everyone is at a different level, and there is no shame about learning how it’s done. The beauty in these habits is that they work especially well for busy people who don’t have a lot of time and tend to forget to call and make plans others. With a few simple adjustments and habit changes, you can entirely change your social life.
(Paul Sanders writes about how to overcome shyness and loneliness, master conversation and social skills, make friends, and build a social circle. His runs his own website giving advice on how to get the friends you want.)
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)