Wellbeing

How To Immediately Make Friends Overseas

Just moved to a new city? You’re not alone. Well, you might be, and that can be totally scary and overwhelming. Each time I’ve moved I feel like I’m the most adulting adulter the adult world has seen. After all, I’m an independent lady who does what she wants! Then suddenly that feeling sets in. I know no one. But it’s actually easy to make friends overseas.

When I first arrive:

When I realise I have no friends:

According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar we have a limited capacity for meaningful relationships, but we also have a need for some of those relationships to be close by. We need a literal shoulder to cry on at times, and to share experiences with. Basically, science says we need friends. So, for sure keep your core group of long distance besties and FaceTime as much as possible, but also get some real face time in. Creating a reliable friend group can dramatically influence your view of your new home.

Living with others

I’m at my most comfortable in my leopard onesie, wrapped in a blanket, and watching Queer Eye; oddly enough this is not conducive to making friends.

I’ve found the best way to combat this is by living communally. You don’t need to be best friends with all your housemates (I’ve lived in houses with nine people before, you’re not going to like everyone) but it does give you the opportunity to be social within your own space and gives you the ability to expand your social reach exponentially. Plus (let’s face it) finding a way to be social without putting on real pants is a win.

Moving into a place with complete strangers is terrifying, what if you move in with people who a terrible. However, the way I look at it is that worst case scenario is you get some cringeworthy stories to win over new friends with.

Dating apps

While most people are swiping right for love, I say swipe to get out from under your blanket and into the world.

When I first moved to the UK I used a dating app and it is was one of the best decisions I made. By going on dates, I found out where neat bars were from locals, and I learned the geography of my new city. Obviously, this meant when I moved to Japan I was going to do the same thing.

If you’re moving to a country where you’re not a native speaker I’d recommend this even more. It gives you a chance to practise your language skills, and expand your expat group if you feel a bit isolated.

Get Swole

You don’t have to actually try to get Michelle Obama arms, or Kim K’s booty (though if that does happen please send me your workout plan). Joining a gym, yoga studio, or run club can be really good way to expand your network.

After being away from Los Angeles for seven years I moved back and was looking for a way to re-establish myself. I joined a free run club, it was a great way to meet a supportive group of people who were interested in my success. Another benefit was that I learned new things about the city I grew up in.

If joining a gym isn’t your thing (or even if it is) joining a wine club, book club, or ideally a combination of both is a great way to meet people who may have similar interests.

Say “yes”

Sometimes this is the hardest one of all. The first two months I lived in Japan were perhaps the most exhaustive because anytime anyone asked me to be social I said, “yes”.

For sure there a million reasons to stay in when you’re invited out. You may be exhausted from a long week at work, you may have gone out the night before, or maybe you need to keep to your budget and that bar tab just isn’t going to fit into it. Here’s the thing, if you say no early on people stop inviting you to things. Not because of anything you’ve done, but because they assume you won’t want to go. If you need to stay in budget my suggestion is, you organise the activities. Organise a picnic in a park, find a free exhibit at a museum, or pick a bar that’s in your price range.

The key is to say yes! You may discover a hobby you didn’t know you’d love, or an area you didn’t know existed. Best of all you will have shared an experience with potential lifelong friends.


Catherine is an outdoor loving, native Angeleno now based in Brisbane. When she’s not dreaming of her next big move you can find her looking at miniature pigs on Instagram and perfecting her burrito recipe.