When you live abroad, having a strong support network and a reliable social circle is essential. It can be difficult to build meaningful relationships with people in a different country and culture, yet having a network of supportive friends can make all the difference when it comes to adjusting to life overseas.
Without a support system, it can be even more difficult to acclimate to the new environment, leading to the potential for mental health issues. A blog from our sister site RHJ Law talks about how to stay mentally healthy as an expat – read more!
This blog post will explore the importance of a strong network and support system when living abroad.
The challenges of living abroad
When you leave your home country, you tend to be far from your family, friends, and colleagues, and step into a new world where you are exposed to many challenges and difficulties.
A big advantage of being an expat is learning how to navigate in completely new environments and cultures. In addition to learning new skills, you begin to gain more independence, how to understand and respect diversity from other cultures, and how to operate outside your comfort zone. Being an expatriate gives you empathy for others who are facing similar challenges.
Being an expat looks easy on the surface, but it is incredibly challenging emotionally, socially, and mentally. One of the unspoken truths about expats is that they develop empathy for each other, because they understand things that natives in their host country will never know, unless they have experienced a similar situation themselves.
Expats often struggle with loneliness.
The importance of a strong support network
It can also be an online or offline social network – think of it as a support system. To put it simply, it’s having a regular conversation with someone outside your immediate family.
The group could consist of colleagues with whom you chat around the water cooler – a casual but regular relationship. It could also consist of friends with whom you occasionally go to coffee. Throughout the ‘friendship spectrum’ to proper, deep, meaningful friendships.
When you are an expat parent, you are most likely to make friends at the school gates. You have something in common – you have kids at the same school.
Are there any other expats without kids? Those who are working and want to find friends outside the office? Those who have older children and don’t have the school-run hassle? Who has a door-to-door school bus service?
New expats often find themselves very isolated, which leads to a very depressing existence.
How to build a strong support network
To build an active and fulfilling social life overseas, you must be proactive.
In order to meet new people, you must leave your house and start the search on your own. If you meet someone you think you’ll hit it off with, make a meet-up date right away and make things happen.
If you don’t do it for yourself, you can’t expect it to just happen.
7 tips to help you find new friends
- Sign up for clubs or classes that interest you, as someone interested in language, you might want to sign up for a language class. Look for groups that fit with your interests. Joining a group or club with a focus on a shared interest will make it easy for you to meet individuals who think the way you do.
- Accept all invitations, even if you do not like the idea. Maybe you will meet someone who dislikes it as much as you do – instant connection!
- Take part in local events such as festivals, art shows, and concerts. A relaxed and fun atmosphere provides a great opportunity to meet new people.
- For connecting with new people, use social media. You can start building relationships by joining Facebook groups, following local businesses or individuals on Instagram, and engaging with them. But don’t be creepy – you know what I mean!
- Be open-minded, even if they do not seem like someone you would normally be friends with. There may be a lot in common with you that you were not aware of.
- You should continue contact with new acquaintances by following up with them. This is what’s crucial – Invite them for coffee. Creating a friendship takes effort and patience.
- Friends of friends. when you’ve become friends with someone, try asking them to introduce you to their friends. If you like someone in particular, you have to have faith in their opinion about friends.
The key to finding new friends
Overall, the key to finding new friends in a new country is to be proactive and open to trying new things. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new activities or join groups.
Making new friends as an expat takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight – it would be quite strange if it did, to be honest.
Moving beyond ‘acquaintance’ level can be difficult, which is why you need to be proactive, intentional in a non-creepy way. Keep putting yourself out there and you’ll eventually find people you connect with.
Good friends add so much to our lives and in many cases, and especially with the expat lifestyle, friends become our new family.
With time and effort, you can build a strong network of friends in your new home. You just have to be patient.
RHJ Group are here for you
There is no destination in expat life. It changes, it grows, it shrinks, it throws up challenges, obstacles, and curveballs. Throughout the journey, you will have amazing adventures, experiences, meet fascinating people, learn about new cultures, and open your mind to a different way of life.
RHJ Group are here to help you connect with others just like you! Contact us today if your happy for us to share your information with other expats in your area – maybe leading to lifelong friendships!