International Friendship Day is August 5 this year and it’s a great day to recall old friendships, strengthen existing ones, and make new ones. If you’re planning to move abroad for school or work, you’ll be meeting lots of new friends, forming business friendships, and generally adopting a whole new social circle.
Friendship customs vary all over the world. In China, for example, friendships are mutually beneficial and must be nurtured for many years before being considered a true friendship. But the basics of friendship are universal: sharing thoughts and ideas, socializing at clubs and restaurants, taking part in common interests, confiding in one another, etc.
It can be tough to form new friendships when you find yourself living abroad for the first time. Here are some tips on how to make friends more easily in honor of International Friendship Day:
Join Community Groups
Join community groups in your new destination, which are designed to support the well-being of individuals as they come together in a shared cause. You can find them on social media, local community centers, and at school and work. Look for sports clubs, school groups, church groups, youth groups, support groups and volunteer organizations. Choose one or two and dive right in.
Getting regular exercise is great; however, running on a treadmill alone in your apartment or at the gym won’t help you find new friends. Find a pick-up sports group or intramural team for a sport you may like, such as diving, dancing, running or cycling. Extend those groups to interests and hobbies such as poetry, cooking, language courses and photography.
Go to Parties and Events
When you find yourself in a strange land, the last thing you may feel like doing is putting yourself out there. Yet that’s what you must do. If you are invited to a party, work dinner or drinks with colleagues, just go. You may prefer to sit in and binge watch your favorite Netflix special but you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone time and time again. Be open to conversations from strangers, as many times, they are in the same boat – looking for a connection in a land that intimidates them.
Not all the people you meet will turn out to be your new best friend. But there will be a few diamonds in the rough that you click with, so reach back out to those people. Invite them to coffee, a movie – anything to keep the conversation flowing. In no time, the relationship will go from pleasant acquaintance to genuine friendship.
To learn about how friendships form in other cultures, it’s important to know the customs and languages of those countries. Get in touch with BRIC Language Systems to get started.