February 6, 2020

How to make friends in a new city

Making new friends as an adult is not always easy, especially if you’re the slightly more introverted type. It can be difficult to put yourself out there and reach out to people and see whether you would like to be their friend, and they would like to be yours. For me, friendships are such an important part of my life – those bonds can do absolute wonders for your well-being and it’s lovely to have like-minded people to chat with, unwind with and bounce thoughts and ideas. We learn so much from those around us and it’s wonderful to be able to share experiences together and give back to someone else. After two and a bit years in Edinburgh, I feel so lucky to have a support friendship network here and I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have those people in my life. It’s definitely taken some time though and so I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to make friends in a new place.

Reach out to existing contacts

When I first moved to Edinburgh, I had two friends here who I reached out to in my first week. It can be overwhelming and a little lonely moving to a new place at first so connecting with contacts you know can make a big difference. A familiar face can help you feel more settled and less on edge – even if you don’t know them all that well. It’s worth asking friends if they know anyone in your new home that they could connect you with. One of my best pals moved to Germany and didn’t really know anyone and had some logistic queries about the move – I knew someone from school who’d moved to the same city a few years back and I put the two in touch. They ended up getting on really well and are still in touch now so it’s always worth asking, the worst they can say is no!

Join a class or a club

Within my first two months of Edinburgh life, I joined a life-drawing class to improve my drawing skills but more so to make some new friends. I absolutely loved the class and did have some lovely chats with the folk there but being the youngest by about 30 years meant that I didn’t make lasting friendships with anyone! Sometimes your best intentions don’t always work out in the way you planned and even though I didn’t really connect with anyone there, I did undoubtedly rekindle my love of art and really enjoyed having a new outlet outside work. Whilst art class wasn’t a total success, joining a sports team definitely was. I play netball for a social league and it’s brilliant – most of the team are newbies to Edinburgh and we’ve met up a few times for drinks and dinner which has been fab. I desperately want to learn how to knit this year after following the ridiculously talented creative business owner Lauren Aston on Instagram who creates the coolest knits!

Instagram

I have met so many brilliant people through Instagram – going on Instagram meet-ups is a super way of meeting like-minded people and also getting to know your way around a new place. Obviously you need to be cautious about meeting people off the internet but in my experience I’ve found it an easy place to make new friends. There’s also platforms that are specifically designed for you to make new friends like Meetups so it’s worth looking into if you’re not the sporting type or have more insular hobbies.

Say yes!

If someone invites you out for a coffee or to an event, go with it. If you don’t try then you won’t know so in my experience it’s always good to give things a go. If you don’t end up clicking with a person then at least you’ve tried but you may well find that you actually have a lot in common and a friendship can blossom quite quickly from those first baby steps.

Bond with your colleagues outside of work

This really depends on the type and size of your company but in my experience, work colleagues can very often turn into friendships. When you spend all day next to someone or in the same office as someone, you are bound to form a connection with that person. If you’re working in the same industry, then it’s likely you’ll have lots in common so don’t be afraid to test the waters and see if they maybe want to get a drink after work or go to the cinema. It can be scary putting yourself out there but the worse thing they can say is no or they’d rather not – in which case you can try and pursue friendships with other people who will reciprocate the friendship back! If you’re a freelancer or work remotely, you could consider renting a desk in an office space. Sharing an office with other people might open opportunities to new friendships so it’s worth considering. There are also work societies/organisations you can join. I was part of the Society of Young Publishers when I first moved to Edinburgh and made some great friends there and good connections within the industry. It was scary not knowing anyone at first but if you put the time in then it’s amazing how quickly you start to feel at home and get more familiar with those around you.

Friendships generally don’t happen overnight and it can feel quite lonely at first if you don’t have a support network around you. The important thing is not to give up and to try and throw yourself into different experiences and opportunities as much as possible. Don’t be scared to reach out to others and be kind to yourself if you don’t make friends right away – you’ll get there in the end.

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