Moving to a new country is fraught with challenges – finding a new job, getting to grips with the local way of life, new culture, new food etc. But there is another challenge and one that is often overlooked amidst all the other pressures of the move: making new friends. This can be especially difficult for adults who don´t have the advantage of going to school every day and being forced to make friends that way, as is the case with children. Thankfully, there are loads of ways of smoothing this part of the transition and ensuring that finding your place in the sun needn´t mean abandoning your social life.
When you first arrive in a new country it can be very comforting to seek out your fellow nationals who have been living there longer: they know the ropes and the pitfalls and can point you in the right direction until you find your feet. In Spain there are numerous forums where you can ask questions of other expats about things like the school system, health care, housing etc. Often, regular contributors to these forums will suggest meeting up to get to know each other person, this offers a good opportunity to establish the all-important network of fellow expats to help orientate you in your new surroundings.
Meetup is an international organisation that brings people together around shared interests – whatever they may be. Meetups are great because they are really informal and no matter what your preferred pastime, no matter how mundane or out of the ordinary, you are sure to find likeminded enthusiasts to share it with. They tend to attract people from a broad cross section of international society meaning you get to mingle with all sorts of people while broadening your cultural horizons.
If you want to break out of the expat bubble and work on your Spanish skills at the same time then signing up for a language exchange is the way to go. These can be organised in groups through sites like Meetup or you can opt for one on one exchanges. The beauty of this is that you kill two birds with one stone; on the one hand you pick up the language and on the other it presents the opportunity of making friends with a local.
So you have made a host of friends from around the world with Meetup and gotten to know a few locals through language exchange and you´re ready to take the integration process to the next level. There´s no better way to do this than by joining the residents association in your district or apartment building. Regular meetings are held to discuss the local issues and going along to a few would be a great way to get to know your neighbours and let them know that you are no blow in – you´re here to stay and you want to contribute to the well-being of the community. 23