How to Make Friends Abroad

Congratulations! You’ve made the leap and moved to another country. You’ve covered all the logistics–apartment, insurance, bank account, tax identification number–and oriented yourself to your new surroundings. But now that you’ve settled in, a new, more cringe-worthy challenge, awaits–making friends.  So how do you make friends abroad?


Now, depending on your age and how often you’ve moved, striking up conversations with strangers in a strange land may not be a big deal. But if you’ve had the same friends your whole adult life, collecting new chums can be tough.

When I decided to move to Sydney, Australia, in January without knowing a soul, I did a few things to make the process easier for myself both before and after I arrived.


Hook Up With Friends of Friends


Before you leave on your trip or move, ask everyone you know for contacts of people or relatives dwelling in your destination city. Or better yet, have them CC you on an introductory e-mail. It may seem awkward, almost like you’re a charity case, but it’s worth a try.

Cases in point: A friend back home knew someone living in Sydney and gave me his contact info while I was still in the States. We started e-mailing, and after I arrived and settled in, we met up. We hit it off and started hanging out on a regular basis. It helped, too, that he was from the Philadelphia area, where I’d lived for nine years. We could commiserate not just on being American expats, but on having lived in the same city.


Target Twitter or Facebook


There’s a huge expat/travel community on Twitter. If you start following people in your future country or city, you can build online friendships that you can test out in real life once you’re there. You might also glean early insights into what to expect in your new home.

Before I left, a friend introduced me via Twitter to another young woman from New Jersey arriving in Sydney the same week as me. We began following each other online and met up our first week down under. We now joke about being each other’s first friends in Australia. I also met up with another Twitter pal on a recent trip to Melbourne.Use Social Media to Make Friends Abroad


Make the Most of Meetups


Some people shy away from sites like because they feel like an inorganic way to meet people. But consider other groups besides the “expat” or “new in town” ones. If you have a hobby, such as cooking, reading or jogging, joining those groups could help you find friends who both share your interests and will join you for a drink on Saturday nights.  It is a great way to make friends abroad that have the same interests as you and not just as expats or newbies.


I’ve yet to attend an actual expat meet-up here in Sydney, but I did go on a hike with another group a few weeks in. I met other newcomers from North America and Europe, and we exchanged numbers and met up socially a few weeks later.


Ham it Up at Hostels


The benefit of hostels is that everyone is thrust into the same situation. If you’re friendly, people will often invite you out because they’re also travelling solo. So while your first instinct may be to seclude yourself in your dorm, force yourself to chat with other guests in the common areas.

When I first arrived in Sydney, I spent a week at a hostel in Bondi Beach. I felt overwhelmed and jetlagged, but I talked with my roommates and made it a point to meet others at mealtimes. Now I have pals I can reconnect with when they pop back into Sydney. Hostels are also sometimes a good place to return to even after you’ve settled, as the more popular, centralized ones can have a big social atmosphere.


Combine Work and Play


If you worked somewhere at home that has a branch or even some clients where you’re headed, ask to be introduced. You could get friends and additional work opportunities.

I work from home as a full-time freelance writer, so I don’t have the social benefit of an office. Before I left for Oz though, a North American client connected me with the editor of the Australian version of its website. We eventually met for drinks and stayed in touch, and I got the bonus of a writing assignment.

So making friends abroad doesn’t have to be painful. With some in-person and online networking and friendliness toward fellow travelers, you’ll be Miss or Mr. Popularity in no time.

How to Make Friends Abroad


Do you have any other tips on how to make friends abroad?

Thinking About Moving Abroad?  Read More About Expat Life Here.

Lauren Fritsky is a journalist and blogger from New Jersey currently spending a year in Sydney, Australia, on a work/holiday visa. Her work has appeared on major Web sites including AOL and CNN and in magazines such as Weight Watchers. Read about her time abroad at


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27 thoughts on “How to Make Friends Abroad”

  1. Michael Odhiambo

    Hi, Am a kenyan looking for friends from other countries. I really would like to have guys out there to socialize with also if interested in business deals. May you be interested? I will be humbled to have you as a friend.

  2. I would like to have friends and share with them.I will be grateful if any is interested.Thanks

  3. Great post – thanks for sharing all the great wisdom. I am finding myself in a difficult situation. I moved to the USA 4 years ago and met the guy of my dreams within a year of moving here. After 3 great years together we split up last month and up until that point all my friends were friends that I met through him. It’s very sad to say that only one or two have kept in contact with me. As a result, I am now finding myself back to square one. It is as if I just moved here, but I am now 4 years older (33)! Does anyone have any tips on how to pick myself backup? I love people and being sociable.

    1. Not too many tips but I’ve heard of some people having luck finding groups on

    2. I’m so sorry for what happened to you but I assure you that there are lots of thing you cab do in your life.with this experience you have in your life you know, you are more grown and the way you look at the life and people is great. love and passion are things that always keep people alive and certainly one or two split ups are not sth that make us down. get new friends and try to have fun in your daily schedule . sports are very useful too. bu the most important thing is that you believe in god and rely on him. he will never leave his creatures alone

  4. Although a lot people dont agree with me, couchsurfing is a more popular concept in Europe and Asia than the US.

    But using couchsurfing to make friends in europe is not a very good option because you’re always restricted by the only barrier, language.

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