The moment you board that aircraft, you become aware that you just left behind all that you know – your parents, your home, your country, your friends, and the worst part is, you know not when you’ll get to see them next! Then, after 22 hours when that jet lands, you suddenly realize you are all alone from this second on. And oh boy, that is some weird feeling and an absolutely unsettling state of mind.
We all have been in that aircraft, isn’t it?
This is probably the singlemost and the biggest drawback of migration. Once you overcome the post landing blues, unpack, un-jet-lag and settle in, you have a big challenge waiting for you. ‘You need to make new friends’. You need friends, don’t you? Of course, the most convenient way is to hook up with your husband’s friends or their wives – the path most traveled, but there’s no guarantee whether you and her/them will gel well. After all, friends are always by choice, not chance.
Finding friends in a new country is, of course, easier said than done. But, it is not impossible if you put some effort and keep an open mind. Here are some commonly explored options that you can try, many did and actually found their new social circle or best-friends-forever via these tried and tested methods!
1 HARNESS THE POWER OF INTERNET
The most convenient and hassle-free way to hunt for friends is to start your search on the World Wide Web. Try Google-ing for expat groups, NRI forums, H4 websites, and if that doesn’t help much, turn to Twitter and Facebook. You can also explore Meet Up groups on www.meetup.com to look for people living in your locality or who share your interest. For travel enthusiasts, www.couchsurfing.com is a great site.
2USE YOUR CONTACTS
Don’t shy away from asking your friends and relatives back in India about anyone who they know stay in your new host country. Keep their contact details handy and call them at least once, you never know, that cousin Uncle or that distant Aunty might have a daughter of your age. Or, they might know a family friend residing in your locality. Friends are often found in places where you don’t expect them to be.
3 PURUSE A HOBBY
One of the survival tools while abroad is to keep yourself engaged and entertained, especially if you are on H4, and what better way than to continue your old hobby or pick up a new interest. Don’t take to Google and online tutorials, instead take up private lessons or enroll in a community college. Hobbies like bakery, painting, music, dancing will make you look more attractive and also help you find friends!
4 LANGUAGE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
A fun way to learn a new language and meet people is by engaging in a language exchange curriculum. It’s an online program and it’s absolutely free. It is basically ‘give a language, take a language’ activity – you teach somebody your native language, and that person will teach you hers/his. Check out www.sharedtalk.com and www.mylanguageexchange.com to see if it interests you.
5 EXPLORE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
The idea of giving back to the society and engaging in something for the greater good is constructive, as well as rewarding. There are number of options actually, you could teach in a school, help around in temples or churches, work in hospitals, mentor people interested in your area of expertise, etc. If you go online, you’ll stumble upon many organizations like www.volunteermatch.org, www.volunteeringinamerica.gov, www.habitat.org and www.unv.org that offer volunteer jobs.
6TAKE YOURSELF OUT
Step out of your comfort zone of internet and phone, and go places. Head to restaurants & local events, take a stroll in your community park or join a gym, go to grocery shops & beauty parlors – these places are brimming with people who are in similiar situation like you. Try making small talks like ‘Hi, How are you’ or ‘Oh! that bag is good, where did you buy from?’. If you can’t make the first move, just smile and you will be reciprocated or somebody might even ask you to be her friend!
So, ladies, look no further…go ahead, and make some friends!