The importance of making friends in a new place

When moving to a new country or city, you’re leaving behind your family and friends. This move could be for work, starting a fresh or moving towards more opportunities. If you’re reading this, you may have already had to make that decision to leave, or you’re in the process of making the big decision. It sometimes can be the hardest decision and sometimes the easiest, depending on what you’re moving towards or away from. No matter your reasons for moving, the ‘starting again’ is the same for everyone. When you’re new to a city, especially a new country where you don’t know the culture or customs, it can be extremely daunting. How do you meet people as an adult? Where do you go to meet people? What if you’re shy, and don’t feel comfortable to get out and socialise? These are all common questions we hear, have read, and have experienced ourselves at some point. It’s typically extremely hard for people new to a place to find connection and friendships. Study after study shows that humans need each other, we need to feel connection with people, we need good relationships to be able to live happier, healthier lives. When we don’t get that connection, we tend to feel lonely, depressed and homesick. Spiralling down the loneliness tunnel, has many effects on your mental and physical well-being. Research conducted by Harvard Medical School found that a lack of social ties is significantly related to depression and later-life cognitive decline. For expats, when you don’t feel a connection to the place and people around you, homesickness creeps up and there is a large urge to go back home. There may also be feelings of embarrassment, having to face everyone at home, feeling like you didn’t succeed on your own. Now, some people may think the term ‘connecting with others’ means you need to have deep and meaningful conversations with everyone you meet, just to feel some resemblance of connection. But even just a small connection with a stranger, can improve your mental well-being. Obviously, we encourage you to try our experiences here at Tribeupp as a way to meet people and make friends, but for other alternate options, here are three easy tips to create some small connections and are a great starting point:

1. Join a club

Find a club that meets regularly, like a sports club, book club or activity that you enjoy or want to learn. Having a regular meeting day and time, means that you’ll see the same people over and over, bringing about a sense of connection to those people as well as to the club.


2. Smile and say hello


Next time you catch the bus, say good morning to your bus driver with a smile. When you’re walking along the street and a stranger passes by, make eye contact and say hello. You’ll be surprised at the warmth you receive back, especially in New Zealand. Or have a friendly chat with the staff in a store. All these small interactions can compound into feelings of connection to a place.


3. Have a chat


When you’re in a store have a friendly chat to the staff, they’ll always be someone happy to have a yarn (chat) with you. If there’s a local dairy (corner shop / general store) close by, get to know the names of the staff. Usually, dairies are family owned and operated, so if you make regular stops there you’ll get to know the family.

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