Making Friends In A New Environment

By: Kerry Plowright

So you have made the big move to your new home and you have come to the reality that you are alone. If you have moved from an environment of having familiar faces around be it friends and family you will know exactly what I mean! The ones who know it all to well are traditionally expatriates or expats for short. Sure there is the phone or the internet, unfortunately both modes of communication lack the human or physical interaction we come to know & love.

If you are hundreds or thousands of kilometres away or even in another country the best way to adjust or to stop feeling sorry for yourself, is to throw yourself into the community. There is no sure fire way of people appearing out of know where, who are dying to introduce themself to you; unless it is that nosey neighbour who creates an excuse to meet with you to support their rumour mill conscious. If you have kids then this is a way of quickly meeting with other parents whom have similar interests to your own. For the childless do not be despondent we will provide some ideas for you to work on as well.

Children generally make friends easier, as adults can be a little judgmental at first. By default your kids are a way to meet the parents, there are many ways. For example, arranging for your child's friend to come over and play on the weekend, this will give you an opportunity to invite the parents in for coffee. At this point be careful not to talk too much about yourself as tempting as it is for most of us. Why? It goes without saying our favourite subject is ourself, & who do we know the best? Ease in by listening & asking questions of the parents, you will appear more interesting to them when you acknowledge them & are hearing what they have to say.

Your child's birthday can give another opportunity for meeting the parents through having a party or to arrange a gathering in a local park. If you mention in the invite if any of the parents want to stay on, and participate in the festivities, they are more than welcome. Still on the school front another great way of meeting new people is to get involved with the P&C Association i.e. Parents and Citizens or P&F i.e. Parents & Friends. This is a voluntary group of parents who normally meet once a month to discuss issues and fundraising for the school. Children love it when their parents get involved with their school and PandC Associations are always looking for people to help.

If time permits help out at the school tuckshop or canteen once a week, until you have met some like minded people that you can develop a relationship with, outside of school. Same applies with your children's sporting clubs, offer to clean the uniforms one week or interact some other way that will appeal to other parents. Look in the local paper or search the internet for community projects or events that you are interested in and offer your assistance in organising, or helping out on the day. It will be easier to get involved in something that comes natural to you, as the passion will be noticed by other advocates.

For the childless or singles that have moved to a new community here are some useful tips to help you put yourself out there. If you are working this is probably the best avenue to create new friends, you may ask a peer to join you for lunch; this is an informal option to explore, if others have similar interests to your own you will soon decipher who shares common interests with you. You may offer to run the social club normally a thankless job, although quite appreciated by those who don't do it. You could start a sporting tips competition that will create some camaraderie amongst the other employees, and will have you interacting with a lot more people sooner than later.

Simply by offering to make someone a coffee or tea will welcome in a new perspective of how others will interact with you. A fantastic gesture is, once a week bring in a cake for morning tea; you will soon tap into someone's heart strings that sees you as compassionate and friendly. Before you know it people will become attracted to you for what you bring to them. Apart from stating the obvious with sporting clubs and hobbies why not consider Toastmasters this is great way to meet people, even if you are a confident speaker you may actually help someone overcome their fears through your experiences.

Other clubs to consider are Rotary, Lions or even the local Chamber of Commerce. These clubs are always looking to broaden their membership base; you may elect to do it long enough to start meeting other like minded people. All things considered it doesn't matter how you go about it, there is an element of putting yourself in the faces of people in your community, be it a polite wave to the neighbors as they drive by, or greeting your local shopkeeper with some niceties. If you pay someone a compliment sooner than later they will open up and start communicating.

A common cause of people returning to their previous home is through lack of companionship, or lack of familiar surroundings. It is easier to blame your new home of the short comings you are accustomed, or you can decide to make the most of it. Enjoy & bring on the new friends.

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