If you are moving to the United Kingdom (UK) in the near future, congratulations! You’re on the move to a great place. Whilst you may be excited about your new adventures ahead, there are many emotions that come with moving. Understandably you are leaving your friends, family, home and memories behind. Luckily, there is social media nowadays to keep in touch with all those familiar faces, but moving abroad can feel lonely at first.Moving to a new country or city means settling in and making new friends. This may sound like a simple task, especially when you can make friends through work, school or being introduced to them through other existing friends. However, the dynamic changes when you’re moving abroad. People have different mannerisms from what you are used to. You will not immediately fall into a friendship circle, but that does not mean you cannot make friends. Below is a guide to making friends as an expat.
Start with your neighbours. If you are into baking, trying putting together a little basket of your favourite cakes and biscuits. It is always a lovely way to introduce yourself to the neighbourhood and also makes a good impression on people. Neighbours can be a great help when it comes to settling in, especially if they have lived in the place for many years prior to you moving in. They can give you the best tips, like where to do your grocery shopping, the best local schools and the most accessible transport links.
Not only is social media good for keeping in touch with people back home, it is great for joining Facebook groups for expats or people in your area. Making friends on the internet is not looked down on, like it used to be a few years ago. One expat who went to university in a new city found this to be a great way of meeting people: “It was a great help when I was going to university in a new city, it allowed me to connect with people that were going to the same university, even the same course. Talking online reassured me about my move, knowing I would have some familiar faces to socialise with on my arrival.” It is most likely that there will be others who have been in your situation before.
Sports & Social Clubs
Doing something you love is a great way of meeting new friends. Whether it be going to a local sports club, joining a football team, adding onto the ladies’ dumbbell workout club at your gym or even joining a social club. It is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people. Alternatively, if you’re not into sports, there is the opportunity to join sites like Meetup that offer groups that people can join and get together regularly. Meetup offers something for almost everyone, so you can be sure to find friends who like the same thing as you.
If you are not moving with a partner or family members, pen pals might be a good way to meet friends. Prior to your move, try joining a few sites that allow you to make new pen pals in your new destination. Plenty of people would probably love to hear about your life back home, and will offer you tips and advice about the United Kingdom. If you begin corresponding before you move abroad, you will have a friend before you even arrive!
Friends of Friends
Ask your friends and family around you if they have any connections or friends they have made in the UK. Your first cousin may have gone for a study exchange programme. Whilst they were here, they were bound to have made some friends that they could introduce you to.
We are lucky enough to live in a high-tech era that offers the availability to meet others through our mobiles. There are my apps, like Badoo and MeetMe, that offer the chance to get talking to people in your area. This is a great way to get started and find out if you have any common interests before meeting face to face. Don’t be taken aback if nobody replies to you straight away, as many people are restricted on how much time they have available to check these types of apps.
Starting a blog can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family back home, as well as making new friends when you move abroad. You can write about your impressions of the UK as an expat, and your reasons for moving. Perhaps try reviewing some local attractions, and soon you’ll find people sharing and commenting on your posts who might be open to meeting in real life as well.
Do not take it personally if you do not have close friends within a couple of weeks. It will take time to form long-term friendships, but it will be worth it in the end. Many friendships are formed gradually over the course of time – that person you keep bumping into on the way to the supermarket might one day be your best friend in the world!
Whichever way you decide to go about it, just remember you are not the only one feeling the way you do. There will be many others in the same situation. Just remember that feelings of isolation and despondency are normal at first, and who knows, someone in the same situation could be your new best friend. Remember to keep smiling; moving to a new country is an exciting time, so concentrate on the most important aspects first.
Have you made new friends since arriving in the UK? Share your experiences in the comments!