I knew we were only ever going to be in Singapore for a short time but that didn't stop me wanting to meet a group of friends to help with homesickness and make staying here feel that little bit more familiar. Making friends as an expat has been so interesting and I have learnt so much about myself in the process. I hope this post will resonate with anyone who is, or has been, an expat and actually most of it applies to friendships at home as well! I guess one of the main worries before you move abroad is that you might struggle to make friends, so read on to hear how I have found it.
It’s refreshing to meet new friends with similar interests
It can be nerve-wracking throwing yourself out there
I have been lucky that everyone I have met has been lovely but there is always that doubt that someone you’ve barely communicated with could be nothing like you thought they’d be in person. I guess it’s similar to modern dating, you exchange messages electronically then it’s all down to whether you click on that ‘first date’! I think it helps that you instantly have something in common, having both left home for pastures new, and will always have things to talk about. My biggest piece of advice is to take any opportunity to meet a wide range of new people when you move somewhere new and you will definitely find someone who you get on with.
Expat friends are a wealth of information
You can join all the online groups you like but having a WhatsApp group with the expat friends you have met is amazing when you want to ask everything from where to get your hair cut to where to take visitors for dinner. Don’t underestimate how many questions you will have when you first move somewhere new! It's also a great way to try different places, we've had some nice days out to see parts of Singapore that I may not discovered if it wasn't for other expats suggesting them.
Nothing is permanent
People are always coming and going in expat circles so you will get used to people moving away. I have been lucky that all my friends have been consistent as we are only in Singapore for less than a year. I am the one who will be leaving the lovely friendship group that has evolved, something I am trying to come to terms with at the moment. It’s great to have friends you can keep in touch with from different walks of life and just think of all the exotic locations you will have an excuse to visit in future! I love the fact I have somewhere to stay if we ever come back (they did promise!) and I can't wait to see how their lives out here continue to evolve.
You won’t click with everyone
Someone told me this but I have been really lucky to find plenty of girls I have connected with. However, not all plans to meet up have worked out so it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket. It's best to try to connect with as many people as possible, whether that is through organised events or through other friends. You find that expat circles move and adapt very quickly and I have been meeting new people far more regularly this year than I would at home.
Think outside the box
Meeting friends doesn’t have to be left to chance and it’s actually quite difficult to meet anyone that way. Get yourself signed up to the Meetup app and any Facebook groups for the place you are moving to. For Singapore I recommend The Only Way Is... Singapore and Singapore Expat Women. I met most of my girl group at a Singapore Expat Women event. I also actually met a couple of expat friends through finding each other on Instagram through relevant hashtags: don’t be afraid to message someone who you think you might click with. I am hoping this can continue when I move home!
You will gain a different perspective
Moving abroad, albeit temporarily, will always be the biggest, scariest and best decision I have ever made. I can 100% say it has changed me, for the better, and I owe a large part of that to the new people I have met. I have had my eyes opened to new opinions, groups, interests and ways of life which is wonderful! It's also made me realise just how lucky I am to have my friends at home. I have known them all for 10 years + and I just don't know where I'd be without them now. I am a mixed bag of emotions right now: half of me is so excited to get home and see everyone, the other half will miss my expat friends so much!
Be grateful for people that make you laugh
a little louder, smile a little bigger and live a little better
I am so grateful to each and every one of the amazing girls I have met in this short but sweet expat experience. How have you found making friends as an expat? Leave a comment below if you can relate!
All photos taken in the beautiful Botanic Gardens in Singapore, a must visit!