Did you just arrive in your new hometown and are looking forward to making new friends? Finding real friends is not easy, especially since many of us already have our best friend since preschool and no one really compares to her or him. Also, if you are a little introvert like me, it’s hard to walk up to strangers and start talking to them.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to get into a conversation with Americans. I’ve had the experience of random people coming up to me and starting conversations by complementing my hair or clothes. One time I was in a coffee shop and a doctor started talking to me, asking for tips about what to do with one of his patients. You see, it’s easy to get into quick conversations and small talk, but a lot harder to actually meet those people again and get to know them better.
Usually people are quick to suggest meeting up and doing something together but never ask for your contact information so you can actually follow up on your plans.
In order to make real friends you need to meet people with the same interests or who have something in common with you. Here is a list of places where, depending on your interests, you will hopefully meet some nice people to build wonderful friendships with.
Find a hobby
Have you been a member of a sports team in your home country? Perfect, join the local team! If you are interested in arts or music, you can take classes and meet like-minded people there.
Join the gym
I have found that the gym is a great place to get in contact with new people. Everybody is there for the same reason, to be fit and healthy, so you already have something in common. Go get yourself a workout buddy!
Do you like to help others? There are many places looking for volunteers like your local library, the hospital or animal shelter. Please note that this option might take up a lot of your free time and will require your full commitment.
Hang out in parks or on the beach
Instead of watching tv at home alone, spend your days off outside! This way you will get some fresh air, get some sunshine and there’s also the possibility to run into some really nice people. Grab a blanket and a book and head over to the nearest park or beach!
Have a drink at a bar
Go check out the local bar scene! People in bars are usually happy to meet others… and a little drink makes it a lot easier to start a conversation. Unfortunately this option only works for people 21 and older in America.
Check out the coffee shop
If you have work to do on your laptop or emails to write, head over to the coffee shop around the corner. I don’t know why, but I’ve had the experience that people in coffee shops are very communicative and eager to share their stories.
Join a church
If you are religious, find a local church of your faith and join their community. I have visited several churches on the East Coast and have always felt very welcome. Churches usually offer many free time activities and study groups, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to meet nice people.
Check out Meetup.com for groups in your area. Depending on your city or town there are usually several groups for a variety of different interests, hobbies or maybe even for people from your home country. Social media is another easy way to get in contact with like-minded people in your area. Join Facebook groups or search Instagram for fellow expats or au pairs in your area. Please always make sure you are safe. Meet people from online in public places only and tell someone who you trust where you are going and who you’re meeting with, just in case.
The most random place I have ever met someone was in a post office. I was standing in line and held a letter in my hand that was addressed to my family in Germany. The girl behind me just asked me if I was German and that’s how we started to chat .
It’s not possible to force friendships and it’s probably best when they happen naturally but sometimes a little online search or some extra time outside your home can help to find someone very special.
Where did you meet your friends in America? Are they mostly from your home country or did you make American friends as well? I can’t wait to hear your stories in the comments below!