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Ultimate Guide to Making Friends Living Overseas

how to make friends abroad

Even if you have a hard time making friends at home, all hope isn’t lost! Moving abroad can be a beautiful challenge for even the most socially adept. Many people, of all ages, move abroad for a new experience, work, school, or just to say they did it. Regardless of the reasoning, friends are important and it can be hard to get home to see loved ones.

Let’s just say you have your job and residence lined up. There is much more to life than working and sleeping. So how do you go about making friends when you’re in a brand new country?

There are tons of tips out there, but the following are tried and true. We’re going to give you some common sense hints as well as some ideas that you may not have thought of! Keep reading for more!

make friends while living in Japan

The Rest of the World is More Reserved

Americans have a stereotype of being boisterous and friendly, speaking to and smiling at anyone who crosses their paths. While this is great for meeting people at home, it doesn’t always win fans abroad.

Learning when it is appropriate to strike up a conversation is essential when you’re trying to make friends with locals. Do some research on the country or area you’re living in for tips on what to say.

For instance, some areas of the world might be fine with starting out with, “hi, how’s it going” while other countries are far more formal.

Regardless of the area, do your best to look friendly (no permafrowns!)

Download Apps or Get Online

The internet is a wonderful thing, so use it! There are a number of websites that function similarly to dating apps but are totally platonic in their nature.

Sites like Meetup allow users to find an interest and sign up for classes or meets based on what they love to do. Actually, you don’t even have to love it, the class might just be something you’re interested in learning about!

Oftentimes, language meetups or exchanges will end up being an English-speaking party. This means that you’re the star of the show and almost everyone there will want to practice their English skills with you!

If the Meetup site isn’t for you, consider searching for other apps for finding friends. For example, the dating app Bumble has a setting to find platonic friends.

Sign Up

Sign up–for a book club, a language or class, beach volleyball, anything. Attend events that other likeminded people enjoy.

If you can’t find anything that interests you, sign up for something anyway. The point is more about meeting friends, right? There’s a good chance that 99% of the people that show up will have other outside interests as well.

It’s okay to show up to an event or class completely unsure of what you’re doing. In fact, it doesn’t hurt for you to spot others that may be feeling the same!

Don’t Discount Work and School

If you’ve moved abroad due to work or school, consider these two locations a great place to meet new people. Co-workers and classmates will already have similar backgrounds (even if it’s just work or school-related) which will give you something to talk about.

However, this means if someone invites you to have dinner, coffee, or drinks with the group, make a point to attend. Sure, you could be exhausted, but missing too many opportunities like this could lead to them disappearing completely.

Say YES

The above tip hints at saying yes to opportunities to meet people. This is imperative to making friends.

Instead of giving excuses as to why you can’t attend, or even siting a lack of interest, when someone asks you to a function, go without any reserves. This event might be the most boring thing you’ve ever done, but you might meet your new best friend while there.

The upside to really boring events? Typically there is free food!

Be Brave, Be Fearless

Approaching people that speak the same language as you is nervewracking. Trying to start a conversation and friendship with someone in another language can feel impossible.

This is where you’ve got to be brave and fearless. It might not in your nature to start a conversation, so you should do whatever it is you’re doing confidently.

Although many Americans are confident at home, it is important to learn a little of the local language and customs. This will put you more at ease and be appreciated by people around you.

Sit at a coffee shop and people watch, work remotely, enjoy a pint at the bar. No matter the situation, appear confident and friendly. This approach may take a while but eventually, it’ll work and people will start the conversation with you!

Making Friends Begins With Acquaintances

If you’ve met these really cool local people and seem to have hit it off, get their contact information. You’ll have to follow up with them to schedule another outing in order to continue to grow the friendship.

Not following up with acquaintances could be the biggest reason you’re not having luck making real friends. Some people aren’t the type to initiate the conversation which means it is left to you. If you don’t take the time, that friendship will never bloom.

Final Thoughts on Finding Friends

Living abroad is something that plenty of people dream of doing–and you’ve gotten that far! As stated earlier, there’s more to life than working and sleeping, so friends can be pretty instrumental in showing you around.

Not only can local friends show you around, but they make life more enjoyable! No matter if your friends are locals or other expat Americans, spending time with them can lessen the homesick feeling that might be present from time to time.

Other than these benefits, making friends can help you practice your language skills and allow you to feel good about helping others.

If you’d like to read more posts about living abroad or are just interested in traveling, check out our latest posts!


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