How to meet Like Minded Friends as an Adult ( and living Abroad)
"You are the average of the 5 people you send the most time with " J. Rohn
And these 5 people usually change over time, especially when you move living abroad!
One of the beauty but also one of the challenges of living abroad is meeting new friends. Especially when you're not a kid anymore and you know you're not going to build a friendship in the same way as it happened when you were a child.
When you move to another country, even if a part of your life may be planned, like your job for example, or your partner, meeting like minded people is not the easiest task and it can hold you back from the act of moving abroad itself.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
MY EXPERIENCE MOVING ABROAD :
I remember when I moved from home to live in Milan for University, I was pretty stressed about the idea of meeting people, wondering if I would find like-minded people with similar interests as me.
When you move as a student the advantage is that you'll be exposed to many people your age, living a similar lifestyle as you, while when you move as an adult ( after your studies) it may seem to much harder, BUT the advantage in this case is that you can really choose who you spent time with and by knowing yourself on a deeper level, you can discriminate with whom you prefer to spend your time instead of simply "trying to fit" in the group like it happens as kids.
But again, very often is easier said than done!
I have been living in France , mostly in Paris for the last 5 and half years, and it wasn't always easy to surround myself with the best people. I was lucky as when I arrived in 2011 I was starting an internship in an international company, where I met many lovely people from all over the world and then as I really wanted to keep on living abroad I continued with my Masters here in Paris because I was already having a nice network of people around me, so why not stay?!?
But in the last few years I met people through very different channels and I learned a couple of things about connection and close friendships abroad, so I want to share some tips with you :
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN MOVING ABROAD TO MEET LIKE-MINDED FRIENDS :
- Think too rationally about it. Human connection is not something we can plan or structure, so even If you may be anxious about feeling lonely at first, there isn't an ideal way to "secure" your group of perfect friends when you're there. Friendship cannot be forced .
- - Do what other people "your age" would do. One of the things we are used to think when we arrive to a new city is "What other people of our age would do here?". The risk of it it's to simply throw ourselves in social events that we would have never gone to just to meet up with new people. Don't get me wrong ,it's absolutely great to try out new things and get out of your comfort zone, but it's always important to do things which are in line with who you are. For example if you are an home buddy that loves to read, hanging out in nightclubs and dance until 5AM may not be the ideal place to meet like-minded friends!
- Rush to make someone your "new best friend". Trust the timing of friendships and give the time to people to open up and connect authentically, without getting too attached to their friendship immediately, unless there is a natural chemistry that happens straight away.
- Waiting to meet people before getting out there. I believe that there are periods of life in which we happen to spend a bit more time alone. And that's ok, it is an opportunity to get to know ourselves on a deeper level and grow, so embrace these moments and cherish them! Don't be afraid to get out and explore the city by yourself, stop at a cute cafe to read a book or visit that famous museum you really want to see, don't wait for others to experience the new environment .
- Only hang around with people from your country. That's an interesting one! Often when we move abroad we have the tendency to look for what's familiar , which can be understandable at the beginning because we feel comfortable and safe. BUT the risk is to live in a bubble and never get to experience the mentality and richness of connecting with local people or other internationals living there. And we may end of 6 months after feeling like we can hardly speak the language, we haven't tried the local food ( Hello Italians looking for an Italian restaurant after one week abroad ahah) and we didn't experience the beauty of the local culture as much as we could have!
IDEAS TO MEET LIKE MINDED FRIENDS ABROAD :
- Do the things you love. This may seem so obvious, but it's not. Moving abroad doesn't mean renouncing to your personality and fitting the crowd at any cost to meet some friends. Quite the opposite! By doing the things you love, like you would have done at home, it's the BEST way to attract like-minded people that can actually become your friends ! And if you're not sure what you like, do a little brainstorm and think about your favorite moments at home, what are your best memories? How do you like to spend your day?
- For me one way to find like minded people was to take yoga classes wherever I went. I find that the yoga community is always so welcoming and open and it was a great way to connect with friends that had similar values.
- WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES? Favorite sports? What are some activities you have never tried but would love to do?
- Ask the Universe for support. This may sound a little "woo woo" but I truly believe that our life experiences are guided but something bigger and wiser that supports us in any situation, including moving abroad!
- JOURNALLING : My favorite way to ask for support is journalling about what I want more in my life, and in the past, when I was craving my tribe of like-minded friends I wrote down the kind of people I wanted to meet, their values and characteristics, and over time I actually met them, and I absolutely love my friends now! It may take some time, especially in a big city like Paris,so a little patience it's important , but believe that the perfect people are around the corner and you will attract them.
- Be your authentic self . This tip is valid in pretty much all life situations, but especially when connecting with new people. Knowing yourself and accepting who you are will filter automatically the perfect friends for you. Never compromise on your personality !
- Be open and kind. Very often when we get into our everyday routine, we tend to close off the external world, put our headphones on in the metro, look at our mobile phone and so on. By doing so we inevitably miss out human interactions that are so enriching and that's what makes life special. Next time you jump on a bus keep your head up and actually look people in the eyes and exchange a couple of words, it may open new possibilities or at least make you smile.
- Recreate your "home" abroad.
- DECORATE YOUR PLACE : Even if you move somewhere temporarily, make the effort to feel at home there. As I found out over time, home is an inner feeling, but our external home can be an expression of it! So put on the wall some nice photos, bring your favorite candle or the little objects that make you feel comfortable. Think fo what makes your own home inviting and special and take care of it. Waking up in a place you love will bring you some positive vibes and raise your energy that will contribute to your new social interactions!
- EVERYDAY ROUTINES : In the same way, do the things that make you feel good at home. Sign up to the gym, find the closest farmer's market, localize the local library. Basically do what you would do back home, and this will allow you to feel good and to meet your people much faster.
- Use the "local" social media pages . Let's use social media for their main purpose, connecting with real-life people!
- USE YOUR NETWORK : The first step is of course to ask people you know to connect you with locals. It's a great first step to get the experience from someone who already know the city and habitudes.
- SEARCH FOR LOCAL FB PAGES : A great way to do that it's to find pages related to the neighborhood you will leave in or to the bobbies and passions you have. In Paris there are a series of apps to connect people in the same area and exchange tips. Get creative and look for specific pages close to your interests.
- USE INSTAGRAM : I am a big fan of Instagram and I find it so useful to check out local bloggers or influencers that can share their favorite places in the city, and often host events to connect with new people. It's one of the best ways to discover new addresses and get genuine advices and really connect with like-minded individuals.