Hey, all. This is my first time participating in the blog carnival. Hope you'll enjoy! For this month's discussion, I was asked to write about my top tips for meeting people abroad.
Currently I'm living and teaching English in Taipei, and this is my second time living outside the US. I have been here in Taipei for a little over two months now. Previously, I lived in Singapore for about 5 months while I was doing an exchange program for my University. While in Singapore, I had a great group of friends that were other exchange students. After those 5 months, I can say that I have friends in just about every corner of Europe and North America. I feel like this topic is especially relevant for me right now, as I'm still a newbie to Taipei and working on expanding my social network.
I'm going to keep this post relatively short and sweet, and offer up my top 3 tips for meeting new people abroad.
1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
You know those awkward conversations that you have when first meeting someone? The ones where you ask each other the same questions (i.e. "Where are you from?", "What do you do?", "How do you like it here in (insert place)?", "What do you like to do in your free time?" etc.). The ones where a 5 second silence in the conversation seems like an eternity. We've all had them at some point or another.
Let's be honest here...most people don't truly enjoy the first couple minutes of a conversation with a stranger. It's awkward and at times can be intimidating. It's easier just to keep your head down, and stay in your comfortable little bubble and only hang out with the people that you already know. Problem is, this doesn't work so well when you're living in a new city where you literally know nobody.
So, that brings me to my first tip. Get comfortable with talking to new people. Dive in headfirst to your encounters with new people in your travels. Once you get past the awkward "get to know you" phase, chances are you'll meet a lot of really great people. This is doubly true if you're invited to go along to a group gathering where you know only the person that invited you. I'm not saying you should steal the show and dominate the conversation, but jump in and just be yourself. Again, once those few minutes of awkwardness pass, you'll forget that you just met these people.
2. Be a "Yes Man" (or woman)
You've had a long day at work or school. You only slept 5 hours last night. You think that you may feel a touch of the sniffles coming on. Then, someone invites you to go out for drinks later that night. You could do the responsible thing and catch some z's, but that doesn't exactly help with making friends in a new city. My advice: take a shower, grab a red bull, and get your ass out of the house.
Not saying that you need to say yes to every single invite that comes your way, but the only way to meet people is to put yourself out there. Even if that means running on caffeine or pushing your comfort zone.
Maybe going to a botanical garden, or an art show, or a sporting event, or a club, (insert other activity here) isn't your thing, but the people you may get to know are more important than the destination. You'll never know what great experiences you could have or what great people you could meet unless you say "yes".
3. Find some roomies
Maybe living with others isn't a great idea for everyone, but for me, finding some random roommates has led to some of my funnest nights so far in Taipei. In most big cities, there will be Facebook groups, or classified ads with other expats that are looking to lease or sub-lease a room. I found a flat with Mexican and Brazilian girls, and Argentinian and Italian guys. Rooming with people that have lived in the country for a bit longer than you have is a great way to learn more about the city, and to meet more people through their friends. For me, this has been one of the best things I've done to help my social life here in Taipei.
That's all I've got for today. Stay tuned for my next post in the coming weeks, and the next blog carnival entry coming on the 5th of next month.