How to find friends in a new city

9/01/2019


The biggest scare I feared before moving to Hong Kong, was making friends. I was afraid that it would be hard to make friends, that I would be very lonely and far away from home.
As an expat, I am no longer tucked safely in the cohort of university social clubs, student houses or lecture halls, so it can be especially hard to make new friends in a brand new city. It's hard to leave what is familiar and comfortable, like old friends and family. And it is incredibly hard to open yourself up to vulnerability and rejection.
But I promise you, making friends is not that hard and you can do it. If you find yourself in a similar place of starting over and in the need of friends, start here:


SAY YES
Before I moved to Hong Kong, I made a deal with myself. Say yes to everything (in moderation) and try anything new. I put myself out there and when someone asked to go for a drink or a walk around, I kept the "Maybe another time" and "Thanks for the invite, but..." far from my vocabulary. The amount of times where I said, "Sure!" and "That sounds amazing!" even when I did not feel like leaving my apartment, can probably not be counted.

However, because of saying yes, I have met so many amazing people. I got last minute invites to a beach party, Sunday morning brunches, night outs and a coffee on a rainy day.
This is not about pretending someone you are not, but it leaves you open to new adventures and mingling.


MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
When you see someone interesting in your gym, on Facebook or maybe even on the streets, go for it! Stop waiting for someone to come ask you to hang. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting the ball rolling. Be willing to be the one to keep making the effort, invite them for a fun event, meet at a coffee shop to hang out and get lunch.

In my first week in Hong Kong, I wanted to make friends so bad that I organised a social event and invited loads of girls that I have never met before from a Facebook group. We went to a rooftop bar, had some nibbles and chatted about why we chose Hong Kong. Most of the girls where quite new in Hong Kong too, so this was a good way to make friends for them too.
The night ended in a clubbing night and till this day we still have contact and even do other events with each other.


USE SOCIAL MEDIA
I used Facebook to organize the event, which was honestly perfect. There are loads of Facebook groups with like-minded people. If you type in "(your city) Expats" chances are that there are at least 3 or 4 expat groups for that city.
Another group that is recommended is Girls Gone International, they have groups in a lot of different cities and the Hong Kong group is the one I used to meet my new friends. Similar groups are Solo Female Traveler Network and Travel Meet Ups - Solo Female Traveler.

I have been using Tinder a lot to get to know people too, it is a dating app, but it can work a charm. Other social media you can use is Meet Up and the app Bumble BFF. An expat website that can be used can be found on InterNations, they organise different events and meetups in a city of choice.


JOIN A CLUB OR A TEAM
In my first week I joined a new gym. Any fitness activity is great for meeting people. Whether it's a new gym, a running club in your neighbourhood (you can find running clubs on the Nike Running app or via Facebook), or a complete new sports like rugby, friendship has the potential to blossom where people gather to work out. Start with a smile and maybe a wave when you see someone going regularly and after a while a chat will come naturally.

Is working out not for you? Find classes or clubs that appeal to other hobbies you might have. Is it to improve your drawing? Did you read a book and want to share this with a book club? Moving to a new city is a great time to focus on your passions and find some new friends along the way.


BE PATIENT
There will be many times when you can't say yes to everything, or you can't join a new club. There are no more events, no more right swipes, and no more MeetUps. You start getting annoyed with the small-talk about career, why this particular city, and what the weather is like the rest of the week. You prefer to spend time in bed with Netflix.

And honestly, that's OK. Building a life somewhere new takes time. You will make friends, you already have put yourself out there. In the end, the best friendships are a slow build, don't rush it.


Do you have any experience with making friends in a new city?
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