Building a Strong Social Network as an Expat

Introduction

Moving to a new country can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it can also be overwhelming and isolating at times.

One of the key ways to make the most of your time abroad and feel at home in your new community is to build a social network.

Building a social network can take time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. Having a strong network of friends and connections can provide support, companionship, and a sense of belonging in your new home.

In this article, we’ll explore some tips and strategies for building a social network as an expat in a new country.

Join Local Clubs and Organizations

Amelia Julio Axe Throwing Cuenca Ecuador

One of the easiest and most effective ways to meet new people and build a social network is to join local clubs and organizations.

These can be related to your passions and interests, such as sports, arts, volunteering, or your profession. By participating in these groups, you’ll be able to connect with like-minded people who share similar values and hobbies.

Amelia joined a dance troupe which really pushed her out of her comfort zone! She also took yoga classes and we both  joined a gym. These activities gave us other things to focus on and created a sense of normalcy. Plus we engaged with people from all over the world!

Joining a club or organization can also provide a sense of purpose and structure, and can help you feel more connected to your new community.

Attend Community Events

Another great way to meet new people and learn about local culture is to attend community events.

Many countries have a rich calendar of festivals, concerts, and other events, and participating in these is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community.

You might also consider hosting your own event, such as a potluck or game night, to bring people together and strengthen connections.

Attending events is a great way to meet new people and make friends, and can also help you learn more about the local culture and traditions.

Volunteer

Giving back to your community is a great way to meet new people and make a positive impact.

Look for volunteer opportunities through local non-profits or organizations, and consider finding ways to use your skills and expertise to make a difference.

When we lived in Olón, we organized a food fundraiser during the pandemic. Most of the locals depend on tourism for their income, so when the lockdowns happened, they went hungry. We met a lot of locals and other expats from all over the world and formed long-lasting friendships with them from this volunteer activity.

Volunteering can be a rewarding and meaningful way to build connections in your new home, and can also help you feel more connected to your community.

Take a Class

Whether you’re interested in learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, or improving your professional skills, taking a class is a great way to meet like-minded people.

Look for opportunities to learn something new and interesting, and you’ll be sure to find people with similar interests.

We took group Spanish classes in Cuenca where we met made a lot of friends while learning more about the city and the culture. It was a great way to connect with other people who had just moved to the area. We also went to language exchange meetups where we met locals and foreigners.

Taking a class can also provide a sense of structure and purpose, and can help you feel more engaged and connected in your new home.

Use Social Media

While it’s important to make real-life connections, social media can be a helpful tool for finding and connecting with other expats in your new country.

We have a vibrant community of current and future expats on our private Discord Server who not only support each other online, but also organize activities and meetups offline. Some have even started dating!

Join groups related to your interests and use social media to stay connected with friends and events. Just be sure to balance your online interactions with in-person ones, and remember that social media is only one part of building a social network.

Be Open and Friendly

Unconventionals

Finally, remember that building a social network is all about being open and friendly. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations or invite others to join you in activities.

When we first moved to Cuenca we stayed in Apartamentos Otorongo where we met a lot of residents who had just moved from the U.S. like us.  We all shared information, went out to eat, played cards, and became good friends.  We also commiserated at times about the cultural differences and some of the difficulties we were having with Spanish.  We appreciated have others who had similar experiences and understood our feelings.

The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to build meaningful connections in your new home. Be genuine and authentic, and you’ll find that people are more likely to respond positively and want to get to know you better.

Building a social network can be intimidating at times, but don’t be afraid to reach out and make the first move. Remember that everyone is looking to make friends and build connections, and by being open and friendly, you’ll be more likely to make lasting friendships.

Also, be patient. Building a social network takes time, and it may take a while to find people you really connect with. Be persistent and keep trying, and eventually you’ll build a strong and supportive network of friends and connections in your new home.”

Conclusion

Building a social network as an expat can be challenging, but it’s also a rewarding and enriching experience. By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to making new friends and feeling at home in your new community.

Remember to be open and friendly, and to take advantage of the many opportunities available to connect with others. With a little effort, you’ll be able to build a strong and supportive social network in your new home.


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