How to Make Friends when Moving Overseas
In the glorious days of my youth, making friends was a relatively easy task. I made my first BFF in kindergarten when a boy walked up to me and said: “Wanna be best friends?” I played it cool: “Yeah, whatever.” The union was then cemented by us holding hands in the playground during recess and lunch, until someone called us boyfriend and girlfriend and then he punched them until they cried. See? Glorious.
Things also progressed easily for me as I made my way through high school and then college, not because I was particularly adept at making connections, more because both systems were relatively small and privately funded, and friendship blossomed whether you liked it or not. So even though I paid elitist institutions for friends, it worked out pretty well as my current entourage are an exceptional bunch of humans, who still want to hang out with me despite my poor life choices.
However, after relocating overseas and moving straight in with my boyfriend, I found myself a friendless 26 year old, more desperate than I was in kindergarten to hang out with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend or his mum. If you are a bit of an introvert like me, it’s tough to make friends after moving somewhere new, especially if you aren’t thrust into the automatic buddy system that a university campus or a flatshare provides. And since it’s apparently socially inappropriate to take the sock-puppet friend that you named Arnold out to the bar for a pint, I decided I’d better start searching for someone who didn’t have buttons for eyes to brunch with on the weekends. As a result, I’ve developed some easy ways to meet your new bestie, and not one of them involves soliciting prostitutes to come to the movies with you.
We are increasingly spending more time with our noses buried into our Iphones, so stop wasting time stalking pictures of your ex’s new abs on Instagram, and start trying to make friends. Global websites such as Meet-Up offer a fantastic platform for social interaction that begins online and leads to an offline date with a bunch of people interested in the same stuff as you. Sure you might feel embarrassed rocking up alone to your first ‘naked yoga lovers’ meeting, but you’ll get over that awkwardness pretty quick after a couple of glasses of wine and will end up with new friends, who share your interests and your postcode. Yay!
Now is the perfect time to finally start learning a new skill that you never got around to. Sign up for a language class and choose the smartest person to have study dates with. Head along to lectures for free at the Open University in Melbourne or pay for some insight and intelligence at a School of Life Class in London. Join a new fitness group such as Rabble Games in London which runs Quidditch, Zombie and Prison Escape sessions followed by brunch. Fuck university campuses; design your own life curriculum and pick up some new soul mates along the away.
Conversations with Strangers
When you’re travelling, it’s easy to begin chatting with strangers in a hostel. One minute you’re unpacking in your room, the next you have five new friends to drink beers with. It’s time to bring some of that travelling bravado into your everyday life. See someone reading the same book as you on public transport? Start up a witty dialogue about how the central character’s development totally highlights the inadequacies of human interaction within the modern world. Sure you have no idea what you’re talking about, but neither do they and they’ll feel obliged to talk to you out of politeness. Pretty soon you’ll be conversing about the latest House of Cards episode, how stupid your boyfriend’s being and how nice Spain is in the spring. Next thing you know your swapping digits and high-fiving as you get off the train. You’re welcome.
Okay, so it does seem to mostly be about sex, but I think we are underestimating the potential of tinder as a friendship building tool. Obviously one of the pre-requisites of new friends is a photogenic face that will make your latest insta shot look good. Establish witty banter in messages before you meet, and then when you finally see them in the flesh, simply friend-zone yourself by picking your nose or forgetting to wear deodorant. Once you have dissipated any sexual tension with foul body odour and filthy grooming habits, friendship will blossom in the place of sex and you’ll have someone to Sunday brunch with who can also babe up your next profile picture.
Do you have a cousin who has a friend who knows someone who moved to the same city as you? MESSAGE THEM STRAIGHT AWAY. And then keep messaging them until they finally agree to take you out for a drink. Sure they might feel pressurised into being your friend after being constantly bombarded with texts, but sometimes the greatest connections come from hesitant beginnings, and let’s face it, you are desperate for camaraderie, even if you have to bully someone you barely know into it.
It may seem like an intimidating idea; to move away from everything you’ve known and build an entirely new support system of friends, but it can be done and in a myriad of different ways. Just don’t ask your sexual health nurse if she wants to grab a drink mid-smear, turns out its less casual banter, more awkward silence and will result in you having to register with a new doctor- which is just not worth having someone to drink wine with.
Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.