Moving to a new country can be very stressful and overwhelming. About a week into moving to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, I said to myself, How am I supposed to make friends abroad? Settling into a new city and trying to make new friends as an adult can feel like overload. But it doesn’t have to be. After you start to explore, you realize how easy it is to meet new people. It is never too late to make new connections. It is only the beginning!
Networking has become my best friend for being integrated into my new city. It is very beneficial to go to different events that are posted online and advertised on flyers in the community. You can find them around your school, coffee shops, buildings, local restaurants, and pasted all around the community. You can also do an online search to find websites that post calendars with different events for your city.
Some events that I have seen in my community are concerts in the park, art exhibits, free events at museums, plays, festivals, and more. Try to go to events that meet your interests to find like-minded individuals who share your passions!
I have attended local events with the online groups that I have joined, such as visiting vineyards, taking the train to explore unique, small pueblos near my city, or going on hikes to amazing viewpoints around my beautiful Mediterranean island.
There are many different ways to make friends online in Spain. Join social media platforms such as Facebook groups or the local university website. There are hundreds of meet-up groups for local university students, Language Assistants, young tourists, Erasmus, and more that are waiting for you to join.
Many of these clubs create WhatsApp groups which you can join to stay connected and updated on events and social gatherings. These groups create weekly meetings for members to go on excursions, try out new restaurants, experience nightly outings at new places, have language exchanges os take dance lessons. Joining a local group can also be a great way to visit unique places around your new city that you might not even be aware of!
Volunteer in the Community
Do you love helping other people? Do you have an activity or hobby that you are passionate about? Why not take those burning passions and use them to not only help in your new community but to also expand your social group! It’s a win-win! I have even found that volunteering helps to improve my Spanish speaking and social skills.
Do you love teaching children? Volunteer at a local daycare center to read books and play with children in English. Are you passionate about animals? Volunteer at a local shelter to help take care of or play with the animals. Volunteering not only will bring you friends and social skills, but it can also give you ties to your neighborhood and community.
You can find resources in your community that you aren’t aware of. Not only will volunteering bring new people and social skills into your life, but it will also keep you active and give you a sense of fulfillment.
Make Exercising Social!
Not only can exercise help you stay healthy, but it can also be a great way to meet new people. For instance, you can join a local gym by getting a monthly gym membership and meet people during your workout times. You also have the opportunity to sign up for fitness classes such as Zumba, CrossFit, Pilates or Yoga.
In these gyms and fitness classes, you will find locals and people from all over the world who share the same goal: to stay fit! In the community, there are also different recreational leagues and sports clubs for adults which are easy to find and join. For instance, if you love to stay active and play frisbee, join the local frisbee group!
Many universities and recreational centers have intramural sports teams that you can join. Some of these sports teams even travel around the country to play in tournaments against teams from other cities. How cool would it be to stay active, meet friends, and travel all at once?!
One of my favorite activities is going on hikes with different groups in my community to stay active and social at the same time. Each month, locals post opportunities to go on beautiful hikes in the Language Assistants group in my city and in other online groups for young students.
Get Involved! Join a Club or Group with your Similar Interests
There are different groups for any kind of interest you could possibly have, whether it be photography, theater, music, or anything else. Are you religious? Join a local faith group or church and go to weekly meetings. Do you sing? Find out where the local choir practices and ask if you can join. Is theater your passion? Search for the local theater or locations where you can practice drama and sign up.
Once you join a group, you will find out how easy it is to make friends, especially with those who have the same interests as you! To find these groups, you can do research or post in community groups online, such as the university or Language Assistants Facebook group for your city.
You can also go directly to the location of your interests and inquire about what groups or clubs are available. Let’s say you are an avid reader who has a passion for thriller novels. Head to your local bookstore and ask about any book clubs that have open-enrollment. Not only will you be strengthening your relationships with people in the community, but you will also be sharing these experiences doing what you love!
Making friends abroad doesn’t have to be scary. It can be fun! For me, it’s even been easier to make friends while living abroad than living at home in the US. In short, living in Spain has brought me a solid group of international friends and memories that will last a lifetime!
By K.C. Kirchner, 2019/20