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The expat dilemma – forced to hang out with people you don’t know?

When we move overseas most of us want to find a way of integrating in our new home. Sometimes that can be a delicate balance and from time to time you might be hanging out with people who are very different from your friends back home.

When working with expats I’ve noticed that it’s not just about getting to know new people (a challenge in its own right) but also getting to know people and realising that with some you simply don’t have enough in common to become close friends. It might sound simple to just choose not to spend time with people you don’t really connect with, but if they are part of your wider new friendship group, it might feel hard to not join the group every time. Being in that new place where our social life might feel a bit fragile, we sometimes feel that we have to hang out with everyone and if we don’t, we’ll be judged. 

How then can you create your own circle of friends that you connect with more deeply?

  1. Be the friend you want to meet. It might sound cliche, but it starts with you! Ask yourself if you met yourself out and about right this minute, would you be compelled to connect? Be positive and friendly and you’ll attract people who are the same.
  2. It’s not just about being nice, it’s about being authentic and true to you. Much to point 1, you attract what you put out there. Make sure to be true to who you really are and not play a role of someone you’re not. Sometimes we do change a bit as we transition to a new country and everyday life, which is perfectly normal. Just make sure that the vibes you send out and the energy you bring remains true to you.
  3. Build your own community and get involved in activities you care about. If you happen to have family, friends or a partner that’s already introduced you to new people that’s a great start. But often we find that this group of people is not the people we’d normally hang out with back home and sometimes it leaves us feeling a bit out of place. Choose to see this circle of new people as possible new friends for some parts of your life, but also make sure to create your own circle/friendships with other people you meet. Having our own identity is more important than we think, so get creative and brainstorm how and where you could meet people who are like you. Through a hobby, field of study, fitness or something else?

The key here is choice. You choose who you spend your time with and you also choose who you are being. Be your own best friend and you’ll find you start becoming more attractive to other friendships as well.

What do you find the most challenging when it comes to meeting new friends after a move?