For some of you an article about how to find friends will seem pretty pointless, but even me, who never had a problem meeting people, found myself in a situation of needing someone new to go out with. The more you travel, the more you understand the matrix of making friendships. However, it all depends on how, where and with whom you are travelling.
When I first arrived in France, I did not know a single person in the city where I was about to study. School had not started yet, so I decided to write in a Facebook student group to see whether somebody would like to go for a drink. I got more than 30 messages and ended up meeting two girls who I am still a good friends with. I also used Tinder in places where it was hard to meet people my age and even if it has quite a bad reputation, you can always find some cool people to hang out on it. Probably the best app would be Meetup, which focusses on common hobbies. It is the most secure and fun way of meeting people, while doing something you enjoy like playing volleyball or learning salsa. Please just be careful and try to avoid meeting online friends alone in a dark street at 2am.
If you are more old-school or are scared of using apps, the best way of meeting somebody naturally is to sign up to the gym or for a yoga class. Language courses, gallery exhibitions or other organized trips are also amazing ways of meeting people. I did some clubbing and festivals on my own, which really put me out of my comfort zone and forced me to make an effort finding party soulmates. In all of these cases small talk will easily lead to a pub as the people you speak to there already have at least one common hobby with you.
Hostels and Universities
I know it sounds like a weird combination, but I found the easiest way to meet people was in hostels and while studying. Hostels are good for making friends in a short space of time as everybody goes there with a similar goal of discovering new places and meeting fun people. University was more for a long-term friendships as people usually stay there for a few semesters. You have similar classes and everybody needs somebody for homework help when you skip the class, so why not become friends! To me, uni and hostel friendships become the strongest.
This one is quite a fun one, and also the most efficient. I used to call a “victim” anyone who had to sit next to me on the bus or airplane, as these people could not escape from me and had no choice but to become my friends :) Especially when you are backpacking, you can easily distinguish the travelers and the locals. In the best scenario, to learn about the country or to get amazing tips, you go for locals if they speak some common language. If you’re in the mood to find a travel partner, I recommend the backpackers. Believe me, it is so easy to have a chat as for both of you the ride will pass quicker and you can end up travelling together.
Friends of friends and neighbours
This is a very useful and easy way of meeting people. If your friends know someone who lives in your next destination, there is a big chance of you liking them!
They can help you with first week orientation or offer you to squat on their couch till you find a proper apartment. They usually introduce you to their friends so why not have a BBQ altogether. Also, people living in the same block of flats like to know who else lives in their building. So be inventive, bake some cookies and go introduce yourself. I don’t think anybody minds having a polite and friendly neighbour with a CAKE. (Having a good relationship with them will also save you from having the police called during your house parties and sometimes they even join in!)
Organize a party full of strangers
This would be my winner. I used to bring some random people at home, invite them to the party and ask them to bring their friends. Of course, I always try to be careful and listen to my intuition but as I see the good in people we can end up having a party with 70 people I barely know. I also do it for people who were less outgoing as they can easily find friends and everybody has an amazing time.
Everybody is different and can struggle with these find-a-friend strategies. However, what we all share is a feeling of wanting to belong somewhere. People around you may also seek friends and share the same fears. Maybe they are not interested, but that is OK, you still have 7 billion left to try. You have to make an effort to find friends, learn about other cultures and understand their train of thought, accepting the differences but most of all get out of your comfort zone. Every person you meet will teach you something, so stop checking your Facebook wall and go out there to find new mates!
Want to get the chance to learn about a new culture and live in the heart of a thriving European city? Study Abroad Apartments offers some great options for students planning to live abroad. Just get in touch with us if you need any help finding somewhere to stay and we’ll make sure you have one of the best options out there!