5 Tips for Making Friends Abroad

After months of planning, researching, packing, and saying your last goodbyes you have finally arrived in the new country or city that you now will be calling home. Your excited, nervous, and ready to get out and explore. But wait, who is going to go exploring your new home with you? You just said goodbye to everyone back home and the just me, myself, and I feeling is really sinking in. So what is one to do?

These past 9 months have at times been a real struggle for me in the friend department. I left my small hometown filled with friends I have known my whole life to live in a place where I knew very few people. On a mission to make some great new friends I have been on some interesting “friend dates”. My friend mission is not over yet but after a few successful “friend dates” I wanted to pass along some ideas on how I have met people here in Iceland.

Friends Abroad

1. Take a Language Classes
If you are moving to a country where you do not speak the native language sign up for a language class. It is a great place to meet others, often many of your classmates will be new to the area as well. And learning the local language is always a good idea. I have meet some interesting characters in my language courses, but some of my closes friends are people that I met in class and we can relate to each other in many ways.

If learning a new language is something you don’t need to worry about in your new area sign up for a dance course, pottery, or even cooking classes. Okay all three of these are things I really want to take and am just waiting for them to be offered in English (or for my Icelandic to be good enough that I can understand).

2. Join Facebook Groups
In Iceland we have a few Facebook groups for foreigners living here and it has been a great resource for me to get information on questions I may have. This Facebook group is also where I found a local volleyball team to join (okay this didn’t go as well as planned but maybe I will give it another try in the future) and is also where I found my bookclub. The Facebook group often post information about events happening in the area as well that otherwise I wouldn’t have heard of.

Just a warning, you may come across negative people in these groups. Don’t let their negative nancy talk get you down. I struggled with this at first when many were posting saying if you don’t speak Icelandic you will never find a job. Look past the negative takl and find the good!

3. Join a gym
If fitness is your thing get a membership for your local gym. As us human’s are creatures of habits people will often go to the gym at the same time each day. It is just a matter of time before you start up a conversation with the girl who is always next to you in spinning class. Okay maybe it won’t happen exactly like this, but for me being active and taking classes at my gym has helped me met people with similar interest to me. And having a workout partner to help motivate me to leave my house during those dark Icelandic winter days has been very helpful.

4. Sign up for a club
Similar to signing up for classes, joining a club in something your interested in is a great way to meet like minded people. If your living in an area that has lots of awesome hiking trails maybe try joining a hiking club. Movies, knitting, reading, cooking, there really is a club for most anything you just need to look. My bookclub is one of my favorite things and I look forward to meeting up with my group every month.

5. Get an Internship or Volunteer
For some of us getting a job in the foreign country we are living in isn’t an option. When I moved to Iceland the first time I was unable to work here and knew I needed something to fill my time. My grandma suggested I find somewhere to volunteer and I am so glad I took her advice.

I found an organization that needed someone to handle all their marketing (which is what my college degree is in) and it was the perfect fit. I was able to gain experience and make some new friends. They also sent me to Paris so it was a pretty great deal. Some of the people I interned with I am still in touch with today and it was an experience that helped me land my current job.

These tips are all things I have tried myself. Some have been successful, others not so much. The main thing is to just be willing to get out of your comfort zone and try as many new things as possible! I know it can be scary going to events where you no nobody, you are in a foreign country and everything is new and frightening. But just think of how much more enjoyable it would be having someone who you can relate what your experience with.

So get out there and have some fun!

Question of the Day?
How have you met people after moving to a new place?

Linking up with Treasure Tromp

  • http://www.gutenblogyall.com/ Margo

    Really great tips, thanks gal!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Glad you liked them! Making friends as an adult is hard work, I am always needed all the tips I can find :)

  • http://www.rhymeandribbons.com/ Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons

    Clubs are especially useful! (As is blogging!) x

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Clubs really are so helpful! If only more bloggers lived in Iceland that would be awesome!

  • http://confuzzledom.wordpress.com/ bevchen

    Great tips!

    When I did a Spanish course a few years ago I was hoping to make friends, but it turned out everyone was much older than me and we had nothing in common. Never mind, at least I tried ;-)

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      I think just being willing to try new things is the most important thing so way to try it out! I have not been the luckiest at making friends in my Icelandic courses as many were also much older or were just on different levels than me. Glad you liked the tips!

  • http://speaking-denglish.com/ Alex, Denglish Speaker

    The Facebook groups are shockingly helpful! I found them silly at first but I’m not even permanently in Munich and its already helped me a million times over.

    For student-aged people, I also highly recommend taking part in ERASMUS activities if in Europe.

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      The Facebook groups are really helpful. Sometimes they get a bit catty over here but for the most part they have been a great resource! Great tip as well for student aged people!

  • http://www.arctic-post.blogspot.com Marju V

    Good tips! Even for someone relocating inside their country.
    I’m excited to begin Cuban dance classes in the fall!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      How fun, Cuban dance classes sound so fun!

  • http://bristolinmypocket.blogspot.co.uk/ Sara Rose

    When I first started my masters we started a facebook group (there’s only about 15 in my program) and it has become seriously helpful for nights out in the pub!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      We have facebook groups for our master students as well and it seems to be an awesome way for them to connect!

  • http://thepumpkinshead.wordpress.com/ Betty J. Ogburn

    …Thanks for the tips–I’m definitely gonna have to keep them in mind once I make it to Spain!!…

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Yes! I hope they help you when you are in Spain :)

  • http://thethingsiamcrazyfor.wordpress.com/ Camila

    When I moved to the UK the first time, FB was a godsend, I met lots of people before even moving physically to Scotland yet. Then some of them became the very best friend I had while abroad. Joining a club/activity is also such a great tip! I know even when I was still home – after I finished university it was like I was stalled in the friends department and I joined a dance school and met a bunch of people I looked forward to seeing every week :)

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      FB has seriously helped me out that group is full of wisdom. Having a group you met with really helps make those connections when your in a new place!

  • http://www.chicadeedee.com/ Dannielle @ Chicadeedee

    It really is hard! I’ve never thought to look on Facebook for expat groups, I know what I’m doing with my afternoon now :)

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Yes the expat groups on Facebook have been so helpful!

  • http://www.elenastravelgram.com/ ElenasTravelgram

    Getting a study-buddy at language classes is a great tip! I’ve made a few friends in France like that :) Oh, and I like attending various event held by expat/exchange students communities too!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      It really helps having a study buddy in our language class!

  • http://bluehairinbelgium.blogspot.be/ Kerri Heritage

    When we (my bf and I) first came to Belgium, we started with language classes but gave up before the end of level one. It was such a struggle for me to fit it around my working hours that I couldn’t go regularly and always missed so much information. At the same time, the people in the class, just weren’t that friendly, so kind of a missed opportunity. We didn’t go back and we’ve been here two years now.
    I was lucky that I came to a job, and in science it’s always in English. My bf took a Masters that was offered in English and that’s where we made most of our friends. I also have my colleagues which is also nice.

    Coming with another person though, I think removes some of the need for friends in the beginning. I’m also a bit of a loner and don’t get lonely that much so I guess it’s what you need.

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      I completely agree with you. Since I live here with my boyfriend I think it has made me not feel the need to get out and meet people as much. Work and school seem to be one of the best places to met people and make connections.

  • http://voyageofthemeemee.com/ Amanda MeeMee

    The language class is a GREAT tip! Others trying to learn the same thing you are, probably for the same reason! Plus, someone to study with!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Yes, someone to listen to me attempt to speak Icelandic and be just as bad as me is great!

  • http://www.tothedayslikethis.com/ Sammy @ Days Like This

    Facebook groups have been the best way for me to make friends in London!! I have met some awesome people this way!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      Yes, Facebook groups have been a great resource of information for me as well, people who have actually experienced things with tips that actually help!

  • http://mariellegreen.com/ Marielle

    When I was in Busan, I used Meetup. It was great for finding book clubs or learning about new places to go in the city.

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      I wish Meetup was more used here in Reykjavik! Meetup is a great one to use!

  • Gillian

    loved this post- not only confirmed some of my suspicions (Facebook groups for expats are actually cool, not creepy and awkward) and its also great to hear about other expats and their experiences making friends in a new city- just moved to barcelona and i know a few people here, but still working on getting my friend situation sorted.. so far whatsapp and googlevoice have been my lifelines back home!

    • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene Spence

      I was hesitant to join the Facebook groups here as well but they have turned out to be a great resource! How exciting on your move to Barcelona, best of luck with getting situated!

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