My move to Mendoza was my 6th time moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone. I know this seems really intimidating to some but I’ve grown to really enjoy it. As I’ve talked with friends over the years they are always amazed at my ability to meet new people and get entrenched in the local culture quickly. Below are just a few of the ways I’ve made friends in the various cities I’ve lived in.
- Join a exercise/sports team– In Philadelphia, I joined a running group to meet people. It met three times a week and then everyone went for beers/brunch afterwards. Here in Mendoza, I found a group of people that meet every Saturday afternoon to play Ultimate Frisbee! It’s been a great way to meet people and get some exercise in as well!
- Go to concerts (or something else you enjoy) by yourself– I know this one may seem really strange to people but I absolutely LOVE music and going to concerts. My music taste tends to be for indie bands that most of my friends didn’t know so over the years I started going by myself. I actually found it to be a great way to meet people because you have at least one thing in common 🙂 As you are waiting for the band to start, you can meet the people around you. (It’s a lot easier than it seems I promise!) Worst case scenario, you don’t meet anyone, this has only happened to me 2-3 times, and once the music starts it doesn’t matter anyway.
- Say Yes– Meaning when someone invites you to something always say yes! I know this one may seem obvious but a lot times it may involve putting yourself in what feels like an awkward situation. I remember when I moved to New Orleans someone invited me to a birthday BBQ they were having. I was nervous because I knew I was only going to know one person but I worked up the courage to go. I’m so glad I did because the people I met there ended up being my best friends in the city!
- Join Facebook groups for Expats– This hint is definitely more helpful on the international scale but when I moved to Mendoza I joined the city’s expat site. Through that site, I was able to meet some amazing people that helped me find housing, other teaching jobs, and find the good places to eat in the city.
- Join a Language Exchange– This one is again more helpful abroad but part of my reason for moving to South America was to learn Spanish. I was able to find a language exchange that meets once a week for several hours. During that time, the speak half in Spanish and half in English. It’s a great way to meet people and learn the language!
- Have roommates– I haven’t always followed my own recommendation on this one but roommates are a great way to make friends in a new city. Here in Mendoza I am living with 6 exchange students rom Mexico, Columbia, and France. I know that may seem a little crowded to some but I’ve found it to be wonderful. It is a great way for me to practice my Spanish and we do fun things like movies nights, going for happy hour, and having group dinners. I know all roommate situation aren’t ideal but if you can find a good group then you always have someone to go out and socialize with.
- Join a church– I know everyone is not religious but I am and I’ve found churches to be the biggest help when it comes to getting settled in a new city. In Dallas, most of my friends came from my small group and through their young adult ministry. In Philadelphia, I joined a second running group through church and that was how I met most of my friends there as well. Here in Mendoza, it has been a great way to meet locals, have deeper conversations, and practice my Spanish (practice makes perfect, right?)