If you’re traveling or moving abroad, you’re probably leaving your family and friends behind. This can be difficult. We all need support-especially in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language fluently. Do you know where to meet people when you move abroad? Here are some tips, especially if you are moving to the U.S., but can apply to other countries as well.
If you are starting a new job in an English-speaking country, try making new friends at work. Look for a group during a break or at lunch. Then ask if you can join them. If people talk about the job, you can get some good insights. If the talk is personal, you may find that you have things in common like travel, kids, or education. Don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect – it’s more important that people understand you. If you find a co-worker you like, invite them out for dinner or drinks (also called happy hour). You can also join InterNations. It will help you make friends and grow your business network. They also offer relocation guides.
Attending church is a great way to meet people who have similar values. There are many options to choose from in English-speaking countries. You can investigate them online before you go. Many offer a Spanish service, but you’ll improve your language skills if you attend one in English. Stay after for coffee and sweets.
Gym or Fitness Classes
Join a gym or take fitness classes. You can find a gym, like Planet Fitness, that only costs $10 per month. In the United States, many community colleges have programs with affordable exercise classes. The catalogs are in local libraries. Also, look for a department of recreation through the local government. They also offer inexpensive classes. In the UK, you can also find free classes by searching Google. Consider joining a running or hiking club. You’ll get exercise, practice your English skills, and meet new people.
Take an English class. Churches often offer them for free. You will meet others in similar situations to yours. Or take an adult education class through the local community college. You can study drawing, sewing, or jewelry-making at a low cost. Catalogs are in the public library.
Are you passionate about animals? Feeding the poor? Volunteer for a local charitable organization. If you have excellent English, see if the local hospital needs help. They always need translators. You will meet potential friends with the same interests. Find an organization on the internet, or ask at the local library.
Meetup is a free website that helps you find groups or classes that interest you. Do you like to hike? Knit? Meditate? You will find a Meetup for that – or start your own! Many classes and groups are free or cost very little. You will get to do activities that you enjoy while meeting like-minded people. You can also find a language exchange.
Search Facebook groups for international travelers or expats. They are very supportive. Also, look for a group in your new town. You can also search for an app like MeetMe or Nearby. As with all first meetings on social media, be safe and meet the person in a public location, and get to know them before you give them your number.
Get Involved at School
If your children attend a U.S. public school, join the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association). They have monthly meetings where they discuss how to help the school and raise money. If your child participates in after-school activities, become a booster. This parent organization raises money for after-school activities like band, theater, and sports. You’ll also get to know other parents by attending the games or activities.
Playgroups for Young Kids
Do you have young children? Join a playgroup. You will meet mothers and fathers with children the same age. Find these groups on Meetup or church, to name a few. It’s also a great way for your children to meet other kids. Visit the children’s section of the local library during reading hours. There will be many parents with young children there.
Join the Local YMCA
These community centers (individuals or families) have a gym, swimming pool, and classes. You will find a lot of families and activities. They have sports leagues and summer camps for the kids as well as opportunities for teenagers.
An icebreaker is a word used to say how you can remove tension from the first meeting.
“Hi, I’m Lucia. We just moved here from __________.”
“Hi. I’m new here. My name is Lucia.”
“Hi. I’m Lucia. It looks like our kids are getting along nicely.”
“I like this class. I’ve always wanted to learn how to ____________.”
“Zumba (or other class) is harder than I thought! I’m tired!”
“Hi. I’m Lucia. I’m new, and I would like to get to know some people. Would you like to get a coffee sometime?”
Think about what interests you, and do it. You will meet people with similar ideas, interests, and values. In other words, look for people with whom you have something in common. Are you worried about your language level? Don’t. Nobody will laugh at you. They will encourage you and help you – especially if they are looking for a new friend too. If you’re still nervous, sign up with us and a teacher can guide you through the transition.