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On the 20th July the world celebrates The International Day of Friendship, a United Nations day of observance that promotes and celebrates the role of friendship in a happy life and peace between cultures.

Friendship is even more important to those who move to a new area. This is our guide to cultivating friendships as an expat, helping movers across the globe settle into a new life abroad.

Why is it important to make new friends?

The relationships we have with our friends are scientifically proven to be the most important: benefitting our mental and physical health. As an expat, your sense of self and your feeling of ‘home’ is drastically impacted by the friends you make in your new location.

Friends are the family you choose – friends can be your best and closest support network, so having good friends in your new home is incredibly important.
They uplift your mood – finding and spending time with positive people can really boost your mood and increase your positivity.
Friends support you when times are tough – a big move is exciting, thrilling and also sometimes tough. Making real friends will make the tougher times easier to get through.
Being there for your friends gives you a feeling of self-worth – the back and forth of a great friendship, the time, energy and support invested, can make you feel needed and wanted.
Friends are your biggest cheerleaders – great friendships boost your self-confidence and encourage and support you to be the best version of yourself.
Having friends around helps you achieve goals – having a support system can make reaching your goals easier: from getting a promotion, getting fit, or even just having someone to try new hobbies out with.

How to make new friends as an expat

Open yourself up to new experiences – your new friends might be expats from anywhere in the world, or locals in your new country. Either way, there will be an element of learning about a new culture, so trying out new experience and throwing yourself into it will help create the bonds of friendships.
Explore your new city like a tourist – taking the time out to explore your new home, its geography and culture will help you acclimatise. In turn, this will help you understand the customs of the people that are now your neighbours. Understanding the culture will only help you make friends sooner.
Support your local sports team – no matter where you are in the world, there’ll be a local sport and team that brings the community together. Why not invite your co-workers along to a game, or go to a local sports bar and cheer them on with the locals. This is a great way of bonding and having a good time at the same time.
Try a new sport, exercise or hobby – this is a great way to meet new people with similar interests while also having some fun. There are often clubs and activities in your area specifically aimed at expats, however getting involved in the local community and culture can help you make friends and acclimatise.
Try giving back to your new community – a spot of volunteering is the perfect antidote to new-move nerves. You’ll find like-minded, kind, and interesting people to befriend all while doing something great for others. And by showing your care and consideration to your local community, you forge real and lasting links to it.

Key to making lasting friendships in a new place is learning about the culture, sharing yours, and really putting yourself out there. Why not host your own party or celebration with your new friends and neighbours this year, and bring your community together?

If you need help and advice on starting a new life abroad, we’re here to help. At Santa Fe Relocation we have specialist teams who offer personalised advice and tours in new areas as part of our Area Orientation service.

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