When people study abroad, they often make friends through their course, accommodation or campus. But what happens when you don’t have classmates or flatmates? We asked some ex-English Language Assistants for their tips on making friends while working abroad.
1. Ask your friends for contacts
If you’re moving to a new country, it’s a good idea to ask your current friends and family if they know anyone who already lives there. Meeting up with a friend of a friend is a great way to establish a network in a new place. You might already have common interests and can bond over your shared friendship.
2. Focus on your colleagues
Making an effort to join in with social activities at work is a great way to make friends naturally. If your colleagues are local, this is a good opportunity to learn about your new home. If they’re international, you can bond over the moving process. Most importantly, making friends with colleagues makes work a lot more fun!
3. Learn the language
It goes without saying that being able to speak the local language will make it easier to make friends, but even the learning process can be useful. By joining a local language class you will likely meet other English speakers and people from other countries. If you prefer to learn one-on-one, look for people who want to meet up and practice their English. You can take turns teaching each other. If you’re already fluent, joining a class of any subject can be helpful in meeting new people!
4. Join in with the local activities
If you’re sporty, seek out local sports teams and exercise classes. Like writing? There are English language writing clubs in most big cities. Keep an eye out for local talks, meetings, openings and receptions. Spark up conversations with other attendees and ask them to recommend other local activities. You could even volunteer to help out at one of the events.
5. Use social media to find networks and groups
When living in another country, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the people and the culture. However, it’s also ok to seek out other people who have moved there from abroad. Social media is great for finding existing networks and expat groups. Look out for networking events and parties, or message a member individually to introduce yourself.
Overall, the best way to make friends is to put yourself out there and say yes to as many opportunities as you can!
For more information on how to study or work abroad with the British Council, visit their website.