I have to admit I was pretty lucky last year. I came back to Spain knowing where I was living, having a place to stay, a roommate who I knew, as well as other friends in the area. This year, however, was different. Yes, I was returning to Malaga once again and had my housing figured out…but I didn’t have my group of friends waiting for me when I arrived. I am not going to lie, my first few days here I spent all my time catching up with my Spanish friends, so that was great. But I needed to make some American friends. Which leads me to the one question I hate asking: “Can we be friends?”
Those who know me know that I am usually a very open and friendly person (sometimes a little too friendly…), but I have to admit in new friend situations I am super shy and nervous. I’m not going to lie, without my tías here to back my up while out meeting people I was kind of lost. For those of you who have studied/lived abroad, understand my stress. You have left your comfort zone and your support system back home…how are you going to find people who can become your new support system? Even more, how can you find people you can really connect with if you are only aboard for 5-9 months? Where do you even start to meet people in a city where you are a stranger?????And then your start to really panic, and end up staying in your piso eating a whole gallon of helado, instead of going out and meeting new people. LA VERDAD.
OK stop, take a deep breath, and read on. Luckily for me, we live in a new age where we can easily connect with people through social media. For me: Facebook groups. In our group for Malaga some awesome people had posted about getting together, so all I had to do was show up! And the rest is history, and now I am feeling a ton better with some new tías!
So really, how does one make REAL friends while abroad? Here are some pointers that I have learned in the past two years of being abroad.
1. Put yourself out there.
I’m serious when I say to do as much as possible. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee! If you see on Facebook that some people are getting together, ask if you can join! If they say yes, TOMA YA! If they say no, then do you really want to be friends with such exclusive people? Just showing up to these things show that you are open to try new things and are interested in meeting people. Now, if no one has initiated anything, THEN YOU CAN! Again, doesn’t have to be much, just a place and a time so that people can gather!
2. Be open.
You are going to meet a ton of people who are all different and who have had different world experiences. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. You all have traveled to a new place, so you all have one thing in common: You all are searching for new adventures. Remember, it takes time to build a relationship, so don’t jump in too quickly. Also, remember that you don’t need to be friends with everyone. This is the hardest for me, because I want to meet everyone, but it is just physically impossible!
3. Make sure to laugh…
…even if it’s awkward. Laughter is a naturally way to relax, so why not laugh when you are meeting new friends? Don’t go out thinking you aren’t going to meet anyone you like because most likely you won’t meet anyone cool.
4. Food and drinks bring people together!
Seriously, it’s the one thing you all can agree on: FOOD IS DELICIOUS. So why not meet for tapas or have dinner at your house. That is exactly what I did: I threw a party at my piso and invited a ton of people so we could all get to know each other! It can something super casual like tacos or even just drinks!
Now get out there and starting making memories with great people!!! Hasta luego!