The secret to making friends abroad

Making friends abroad is hard. Besides language, you're also a cultural outsider. If you're shy, the feeling of not belonging can make it especially difficult to build friendships.

The secret to making friends is contained in the approach. Instead of trying an upfront coffee date or 'let's get to know each other', try meeting people through a shared interest or history where you already have things in common.

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Making Friends Abroad: An Introvert's Guide

theportablewife.com

Hobby classes bring people with the same passion together, such as photography or diving techniques, where you'll have plenty to discuss. Newbies may talk about why they've taken up the hobby, while experienced hobbyists swap stories about past successes.

Most countries and cities have their own platforms where organizations can post local classes. To find classes, do an online search for "local classes [city]".

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If your new country doesn't share your native language, this strategy can help you make friends.

A language exchange is a free way to learn a new language through structured conversation with native speakers. The discussion often focuses on a topic, like eating at a restaurant or shopping. You'll start in one language, then switch to the other. Some cities hosts clubs, but online platforms like Craiglist or Gumtree can also be helpful.

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Host a dog meetup

Dogs are perfect ice-breakers. Their need for socialisation gives you a chance to meet other dog owners.

  • Take your pooch for a walk to the nearest dog-friendly park. Most often, you'll find friendly dogs looking to play. While the dogs play, you can indulge in talking about your furry friends.
  • Many communities host regular dog meetups you can join. Check for opportunities online, at your local vet and pet supply shops.

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Adult sports clubs are one of the easiest ways to make friends after college. Everyone on the team shares a common interest, and it's common for teams to end their game with a meal or drink together.

Some clubs may have high registration fees, but the less competitive groups tend to be budget-friendly. Check online or at the community's athletic centre for your city's options.

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Whether you're passionate about animals or antiques, build friendships through volunteering. You'll have plenty to talk about between activities. You'll also learn about your town, making you less of an outsider.

Search for "volunteer opportunities [area name]" to find local volunteering options.

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The best way to find friends on Instagram is to follow hashtags for your area. You can also follow hashtags relevant to your work or interests, like "#femaletravelbloggers or #expats.

Once you find a few relevant hashtags, check Top and Recent tabs for profiles you want to follow. Leave meaningful comments on their latest posts.

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Finding other expats in your area is one of the easiest ways to making friends abroad.

Finding expat Facebook groups is straightforward. Use the search feature and change the tab over to Groups. Submit a request to join and wait for admin approval.

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  • Take a course. If you're looking for tech-related sessions, look at General Assembly. For other options, try searching for Hotcourses. The platform filters by location and has classes from basic cooking to advanced music theory.
  • Volunteer with Hands On London. This non-profit connects people to volunteer opportunities with charities, schools, and other organisations.
  • Make use of your local common. Many London neighbourhoods have large, open spaces that host community events, running clubs etc. Browse platforms like Get Active or Meetup to see what's happening in your common.

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