How to Make Friends in a New City
I have a confession to make. I know we’ve only just met and this may be slightly inappropriate—bordering on TMI, but sometimes…I hold my pee. No, not in my hands you weirdo. But I hold it in. I hold it, and hold it, and hold it, until I can’t hold it any longer and then I run to the bathroom for sweet relief. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this? To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know why I do it. FOMO? (fear of missing out) Laziness? Or maybe something deeper and more troubled, like some kind of psychological issue only a licensed therapist can uncover? Your guess is as good as mine. Making friends as an adult can sometimes be like holding your pee. Follow me here. You know you gotta go. You know you’ll feel better if you do, and once you finally make it to the loo you can relax and breathe easy. Okay fine, maybe this isn’t the best comparison. But let’s face it, for some people making friends as an adult can be a difficult and stressful task, and adding a new country, and perhaps even a new language doesn’t make it any easier. I know the struggles all too well. When I moved from the US to Spain, I didn’t know a soul, but somehow I’ve managed to make a few really great friends and build an enriching community. If you’ve recently moved and are wondering where to meet people, have no fear. I’ve put together a few suggestions and thoughts to hopefully help you do the same. Oh, and don’t hold your pee in, it’s not good for you.
Okay, okay, if you’re a traveler you’ve probably heard of meetup.com, and you’re probably sick of hearing about it, but you gotta admit, it’s a great website. For those of you that don’t know, Meetup is a website designed to help people meet others with similar interests. The idea of meeting others based around activities and interests is brilliant, and it takes a lot of the leg work out of that awkward small talk that happens when you first meet someone. And it’s not just popular amongst expats, you’d be surprised at how many locals use the site to meet people. I’ve used Meetup myself a few times to join sports teams and language exchanges. It lives up to its promise—I’ve met some great people. Listen, there’s no shame in the game of using the good ‘ol world wide web to make friends. If we can do it for romantic relationships, we can do it for friendships as well.
2. Faith Communities
If you’re a person of faith, joining a faith community can be a great way to meet new friends. I’m a Christian myself and I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve met from joining a local church in whatever city I’m in. Over the years those people that I’ve met have turned into roommates, who have turned into close friends, who have turned into true soul brothers and sisters. It’s great because not only is it community, it’s community with people, who more often than not, share your beliefs, lifestyle, and perspective. Whatever your faith may be, find your tribe and thrive.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking “Really Kim? School? I’m not in school.” When I say school I mean any form of schooling or education. For example, I spent a summer in Madrid a few years ago doing an intense summer of Spanish at a local language school. My classmates and I instantly bonded and spent an unforgettable summer together. Also, when I initially moved to Barcelona, I moved here to do my masters. Again, my cohort and I really bonded and now have became an extremely tight-knit group. Am I telling you to go out there and get a Masters? No, but any form of schooling is a great way to meet new friends. Language classes, pottery classes, cooking classes, acting classes, you name it. There’s a bond that can happen when you can nerd out with people.
4. Put Yourself Out There
I know for some it can be a daunting task: putting yourself out there. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned…sometimes you just gotta be fearless. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Friendship can be easily compared with dating. Look, it can be awkward sometimes, but you just need to put the fear of rejection aside and go for it. Maybe you’ll get shut down, maybe you’ll get ghosted on, but hey, maybe you’re Obama and your Joe Biden is just on the other side of that fear. Don’t be afraid to to ask someone for their number. Don’t be afraid to compliment someone on their outfit. The good thing about putting yourself out there is it often has a trickle down effect. You meet a new friend and become friends with their friends and so on and so on. So you never know what can happen if you’re just bold.
5. Be Patient
If you’ve just moved to a new city, just remember that it takes time. Not everyone you meet is a good fit, but once you start meeting more people and building a social circle it will become easier. I have some friends that I’ve been friends with for close to 17 years but it didn’t happen overnight—it took time. So give yourself a break, and if you don’t feel like being social and wanna just spend a night vegging out on episodes of Black Mirror, go for it. Tomorrow is a new day. Also remember, to have good friends, you must be a good friend. Be good to people and they will be good back. Trust me.
Push past those awkward moments, push past the fear, and go out there, so you can say “It’s official, we’re friends now!” Leave a comment and let me know your tips for making friends in a new city, and don't forget to join the party over on instagram.