This is something I know a thing or two about – struggling to make friends in a new city (and eventually doing it). Now, I am not the friendliest person or a social butterfly, but this reservation stems more from awkwardness than arrogance. I just could not take 12 steps across the room and strike up a conversation with an absolute stranger. It was just not my thing. I got my first push in 2013, when my darling cousin Uzi visited me in Dubai, and helped me out of my shell, bit by bit.
And despite my personal challenges and limitations, I am now very comfortable in finding my tribe in a land unknown. I have managed to make a handful of friends in both Cologne and Berlin, and am here to spill my tried and tested ways for those in the same boat.
There are no rules but one: you have got to be open – open minded, open to new experiences and open to not always hit the mark.
Also, if you are working, you are very likely to meet people anyway. This is more for people like me, who have followed love to a new country/city, and suddenly find themselves in a foreign land, without friends and empty calendars.
I joined groups like Pakistanis in Germany, Girl Gone International and Blogger Welt, to meet like-minded people. Also, it helps if there are common interests, background, future plans, etc to connect with someone. Look up groups in your region, interact, and feel free to message a few to meet for coffee and see how it goes.
I blog (or do I?), have a few regular readers as well (surprise surprise), and some of them were kind enough to reach out and offer a coffee date. Of course, I leaped at the opportunity and actually made some of my most precious friendships through that (hi H!).
It works even if you are on the other hand of the spectrum. Very recently, someone told me how she was new in town and messaged a bloggers from her country to check if she wanted to meet up, and she did. So, truly, it goes both ways.
Pakistani/Indian grocery store:
This is one of the most fun, unorthodox ways of meeting people. When you are new in town, your ears become exceptionally alert to sounds of Urdu. You turn corners just to follow the sound, and see who is talking in the language of your land. The lady I lived with had a daughter, and they spoke in Urdu and Punjabi with each other. Many a girls, new in town, would follow the sound, come up to them and introduce themselves. When you see a woman of age, you automatically assume that she knows her ways around and gravitate towards that knowledge and apna pan. Those introductions led to pot luck parties, where girls would meet other newbies in town and form friendships. There are many different shades of love stories, you know.
P.S this can be true for Indian/Pakistani restaurants as well.
Friends of your partner/friends:
I have been guilty of hijacking N’s friends, who eventually became more mine than his 😀 As he moved here before I did, he met loads of people and became friends with a few. I met those friends and stole a couple (hi H and L). Meeting your friends and partner’s friends can help better integrate your lives, and also give you that head start in finding your own circle.
It may be my least favourite option but I know it works (it did for me in Dubai; I didn’t have to resort to it here in Germany). Simply go on to meetup.com, create a profile, join groups that are of interest (expat girls, bloggers, fashion, lifestyle, travel, or whatever floats your boat). Show up to events, and I know it sounds DAUNTING but trying doing that on your own (sans company). That way, you will sort of force yourself to interact and get comfortable around strangers.
Last bit of advice: Get to befriending people in town as soon as possible. The longer you take, the harder it gets. My first year in Germany was the most difficult year of my life because of this. I insisted on things and people coming my way, instead of pursuing them. This made me miserable, and kept me miserable for a long time, until I decided to change that. I hope you are smarter and more proactive than I was in 2016, and find meaningful friendships.