How I Met New People (and New Friends) While Working Abroad

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

When I began working abroad, my life shifted for the better. I could grow in both my career and life. However, getting to the level of success I now have in a new country was not always easy. It can get a little lonely and hard to deal with. This sentiment is shared by most expats, and if you are intending to work abroad, you will probably experience it, too. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this problem. To help you out, here are five ways that I recommend meeting people and perhaps making new friends:

Making New Friends: Hang Out With Co-Workers

As an expat, you will find other expats who are also feeling lonely in your workplace. The best way to get rid of that loneliness is by being open and reaching out to your co-workers. You can also attend company events or team activities where you can meet other workers from the company.

When I was new to Shanghai, my teammates were very understanding that I was trying to find my balance and provided help whether it was getting a locksmith or finding a place to have my passport photos taken for my visa.

Making New Friends: Volunteer

Not just work buddies by Wildlittlethings
Not just work buddies by Wildlittlethings

If you want to expand your network outside your work environment, you can also volunteer. As an expat, volunteering can give you that sense of belonging in the host country. It is also a great way to spend your free time and help boost your work profile.

To see if there are volunteer opportunities in your city, check out the city’s animal shelters, orphanages, libraries, and local organizations, or NGOs.

The volunteer organization I joined helped other new expatriate families with young children to settle in Kuala Lumpur. I met plenty of like-minded people and grew an impressive network of friends.

Making New Friends: Mix With Expat Social Groups

In almost every country around the world, you will find expats working in the same area as you are. They can give you tips on how you can adjust to the country and even help you out.

Check your favorite social media sites like Facebook or Meetups and look for these groups. You can also ask your friends if they know anyone in the country and introduce them to you. There are also special social networking sites for expats, so don’t be afraid to join up! And, of course, that’s what we are here for at TCI.

Make sure that when you meet these expats in real life, let someone know that you are meeting a stranger and meet in a public location. You should also be careful with the information you reveal in these meetings.

Making New Friends: Get in Touch With the Embassy

Governments often install national embassies in foreign countries to help expats. They are an extension of your home government and can help you in various ways.

Aside from these services, embassies often hold special events to celebrate special holidays for the country. I was a frequent attendee to such events held by the Singapore Embassy in Shanghai and met a few Singaporeans who are new to the country as well.

Making New Friends: Join Community Classes

Fit to be friends by Brucemars
Fit to be friends by Brucemars

If you want to do activities in your free time, you can join classes offered in the community center, libraries, and gyms.

In these classes, you can meet new people with similar interests. Participate in classes that truly interest you, because it’s a superb ice breaker and a great way to encourage personal growth outside of work.

It can be very scary to move to a new country, especially if the country has a different culture from your home country. However, you shouldn’t let your fear keep you from enjoying your new home. Don’t be afraid to meet new people because they can help you adjust and ease your loneliness.

Feeling lonely in a foreign country? We’re here to help you feel at home. 

by: Kally Tay