All of us rely on some sort of social support system to help us get through our days. Friends, family, colleagues, coworkers and neighbors are all part of that network. It’s easier to locate a good doctor, hairdresser or music teacher if you can ask friends for recommendations. Not sure about trying that new restaurant that just opened? Ask your neighbor, who’s been there already.
But what happens when you move? Sure, you can still talk to your family and friends back home. But you can’t meet them for coffee or a movie, or exchange suggestions about whether your child would fare better in Ms. Brown’s classroom or Mr. Snow’s.
You need to develop a new local social support network.
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Denmark recently put together a website to encourage friendships between expats and Danes. Apparently, expats in Denmark complain that Danish people are not very sociable and it’s hard to make friends within the local community. As a result, expats don’t stay in the country very long. Denmarks’ answer is the site Expat in Denmark.
A Google search using the terms “expat” and “friends” turns up about 300,000 listings, so it’s obviously a big concern.
Making new friends is hard, and it takes time when you move across the state or across the country — but how do you get started when you move to another country?
The Socialnaire Club
Expat coach Heather Markel has put together a 12-week program to help with that. Her Socialnaire program offers one lesson each week. Each lesson covers a specific topic, and each has an assignment at the end.
Lesson 1 is an overview to meeting new people and making new friends. While some of the advice seems incredibly basic — practice smiling, for example — when we’re in an overwhelmingly new and different situation, it helps to have someone remind us of something that essential.
Heather has pulled together quite a few helpful online resources as well. She covers using social media like Facebook and LinkedIn in some detail in Lesson 3. Other web-based resources for finding local places to meet people who share common interests are included in later lessons.
Getting to know the local culture and becoming aware of cultural differences so you don’t unknowingly offend people are important to your social development in your new home, and Heather covers them all.
There is a small cost for the program ($5 per week), but that’s a small investment to save weeks or months of frustration after you move.
For more information about Socialnaire, click here.