A 3 step guide to making friends abroad

You’ve packed your bags. Thrown that caution to the wind. You’re on a plane to someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Someplace where you don’t know anyone. Maybe it’s even someplace where you don’t speak the language. People often ask me how I make friends so quickly. I promise you it isn’t rocket science. If I can do it, so can you. 

3. Attend events where you meet people with similar interests

We all have our hobbies. Maybe you like diving and rock climbing. Maybe you enjoy crafts. Perhaps you’re a museum buff. Get on meetup.com or internations.org and find events that tickle your fancy. You’ll find other like-minded people there. You probably won’t love everyone you meet – but you’ll find others with the same interests as you to hangout with. 

Around this time last year, I made some friends at an origami event. Things are still going strong. By the way, each kimono lady bookmark took an hour to make. 

2. Language exchange groups

If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language – there’s nothing like a language exchange event. Forget sitting in a classroom for hours on end. Get out there and meet people. The locals that attend these events are actually interested in meeting people from other cultures. It’s also a great space to meet other expats interested in the local culture.


I cannot stress this point enough. All our friends – even the super close ones – were once strangers. Be the first one to open a conversation. Don’t know what to say? Don’t try so hard to be clever. A simple ‘hello, how are you, how was your day?’ goes a long way. If you meet someone you find interesting, don’t let them get away. Ask for their email address or Facebook contact. Stay in touch. 

Ask them out for super spicy noodles on a cold winter night. Oh yes. Thursday evening in Meguro was one beautiful spicy evening. I just hope my stomach doesn’t hate me tomorrow. 

Mine was the super spicy red one. I like it hot. 

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