A few days ago I posted a list of social networking sites that might help you plan and execute your overseas move, and get settled in afterwards.
However, I’d feel irresponsible if I didn’t spell out one very real downside to relying on social media when you move overseas. This is especially problematic if you’re not working or if you’re living a very unstructured life.
You see, social networking is seductive and it’s easy.
It’s much easier to open a browser and check out your friends on Facebook than it is to get dressed, go out, and talk to strangers — especially in a foreign language.
It’s much simpler to follow your Twitter feed. . . or send emails. . . or open up Skype or Google video chat to have real-time conversations with friends and family back home.
I’m not saying any of those are bad things. They’re not. But if you spend time doing those things instead of becoming engaged with your new life, you’ll have a miserable –- and extremely boring — time.
You could use some of the social networking sites to find people who live in your new city, and arrange to meet them. Here are some other ways to get out from behind the computer and meet people in person, in no particular order.
- Take advantage of things you have to do anyway. Smile at people when you’re doing your shopping, banking or other errands. Be friendly and introduce yourself wherever you can.
- Take advantage of organized activities and events. It’s easier to meet people if you’re sharing a common interest. Join a reading group, a hang-gliding club, a poodle fanciers’ soiree.
- Find out where the expats hang out, and join them from time to time.
- If you have children at home, arrange to meet some of their friends’ parents.
- Walk your dog – especially if it’s small and cute.
- Talk to your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to let them know you want to make friends.
If you’re still spending more time Skyping and less time involved with people where you live, consider getting some help from an expat coach.
Heather Markel has created a self-study program called Socialnaire that’s available online. Or you might want personal coaching, either as part of a group or one-on-one. You can learn more about expat coaching here.
It would be a shame to miss out on all the fun your new home has to offer because you’re spending all your time online, now, wouldn’t it?