It was our first evening in our new place in Kuala Lumpur, and I was worried about whether my son would make new friends. We had recently moved from India, and my eight year old was sad to leave his friends behind.
Suddenly, a few boys ran onto the soccer field, and I egged on my son to talk to them. Before I knew it, he was smiling and playing. And I was left sitting alone on the bench. That’s when it dawned on me. I needed to make new friends too. I too had left my friends behind. It probably would be easier for my son to make friends than for me.
Five months later, I can now say that I have made many new friends in the expat and local community. Here are five tips I practiced to make new friends and feel at home! They might work for you too.
1. Reach out and SMILE
In my numerous walking trips to pick up and drop my kids to school, I made it a habit to smile and wish everyone who walked past me. Initially I had the fear as to whether people would smile back. But majority of the people smiled. Some stopped and chatted. And my journey in making new friends had begun.
2. Join the School P.A( Parent Association)
After a couple of weeks of feeling sorry for myself that I had no friends, I decided to show up for my son’s school P.A. meeting. I met many like-minded moms, and volunteered for the next school event. In the weeks that followed, I made many lasting friendships and got to know the school better as well.
3. Make the First Move
Very often, we wait for others to come and talk to us. However, I soon realised that if I made the first move, it was so much easier, and people were lovely and forthcoming, too. Be it at the grocery store, or at school pick-up, or at the playground, I always made the first move, and it helped.
4. Look up Expat Associations and Groups
There are numerous expat associations and groups in every country. Some are specific to women such as International Women’s Association of Kuala Lumpur. These groups have regular meetings and are a great place to meet like-minded souls. You can also reach out to your country associations.
See Also: The Expat Mingles
5. Reach Out to New Expats Like You
In most places, there are new families coming every month. In my son’s school, I ensured that I met all the new arrivals and chatted with them. The fact that we were both new in the country, gave us a certain kinship, and it was fun too.
I see my son playing with his friends every evening, and I no longer sit alone on a bench. It took me a lot of pushing myself out of my comfort zone to talk to people, and put myself out there. But in the end it was worth it. I feel connected and at home in a place which is so far away from my home, and I am sure you too will feel the same way soon.
Homepage Highlight Photo Credit: Christos Loufopoulos, Flickr
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