How to integrate in a new city

Over the last 10 years I have lived in 4 different countries, moving to Paris, Edinburgh, Zurich and Oslo whilst travelling and staying for work in Singapore, Boston and New York for long period of times. What you want when you move to a new city is to feel at home. This goes through having a supportive network of friends and acquaintances, through finding some special places that you'll love, through finding your new favourite services like hair and nails and importantly through being in the know of what's hot and trending in your city. 

Moving city has so many unknowns and of course the level of uncertainty varies whether or not you are staying within the same country or for that matter continent. In my case, I only moved within Europe, and where I found myself at times for weeks in Asia or the US for work, my moves have stayed relatively comfortable in terms of cultural adaptation. Yet every time I moved or travelled I have followed this set of tricks that have made me integrate fast into the culture and got me to feel home.

how to make new friends abroad

#1 Use and abuse of Instagram

When I moved to Zurich, my new local friends were astonished to see I had tried and already adopted all the hype brunch places or knew the up and coming bars. Same in Oslo, I was was quickly in the know of where to eat, who to follow for best tips and who was making a mark in the city. How you may ask? Instagram. It has become my sole and most trusted city guide when it comes to discovering the goooood places. I very rarely read travel or food blogs anymore. When it comes to where to stay, where to eat and where 'to see and be seen' Instagram is my allie. Sequence of events: I find the influencers in these cities, look at which local accounts they follow or they have tagged, I look at their snaps of food and drinks, lookup the location to see further pictures and get a feel for the ambience, the crowd and the best days of the week to go. I then search for local hashtags, follow local foodies and magazines accounts and match their recommendations with my findings. I take screenshots of the places and look up and follow their accounts to see promotions, special events and seasonal changes in menu. When it comes to restaurants I just hate winging it and I like to have a feel for what sort of ambiance and people go to these places. Instagram is also a great tool to find groups of similar interests and find out what's happening culturally and events wise in your new home place. This system has helped me integrate, planned holidays and weekend trips and literally organize brunches parties with friends all over the world. Amazing tool. 

#2 Rekindle with your old school network

It's always a good idea to look up fellow school or university people that might be living in your new city. An easy way to do that is to look up the city on your Facebook account - chances are you added these people at some point and forgot about them, but now is a good time to revisit these friendships. LinkedIn is also a great place to find which ex colleagues or peers might be living in your city or may have contacts within your company and could introduce you to new people.

#3 Look up and attend Meetups

I have been to less Meet-ups that I wished I had, but these are a great way to connect to professionals in your city and to network. Meetups are events that bring people together around themes they are passionate about. Think Women Empowerment, EdTech, Sustainability, Ecology and so on. You can check which ones are taking place in your city here: https://www.meetup.com/. Yes it is a networking opportunity, but passions bring people close and closer. This could be a great way to make friends.

#4 Join a local women GGI group or similar

Girl Gone International is a worldwide non-profit community of 140,000+ international women with local communities in over 130 cities that organizes groups and events for Expat women. It is a fantastic way to make friends and connect with other women who have a similar life path and live like #9to9 girls. In Oslo, I have joined Power Girls led by Yrja and their After Works sessions. It is a fantastic way to meet new people, fellow entrepreneurs and content makers.

#5 Do what you love 

Doing what you love will be the best and most natural way to make friends. For me it meant going to gym and chat whilst waiting, taking painting and dancing classes and meeting girls with the same interests and passions. So don't forget to focus on yourself and on what you like first and the rest does come naturally.

#6 meet work buddies

Finding friends at work is fantastic. Depending on where you work, it might be more or less easy and more or less appropriate but I personally have found friends for life in each of my significant work place. Finding the people you can trust, share and together lift each other up is the greatest gift an organisation can give you. And through them you will meet other people. Don't be shy to ask them out for coffee or lunch, or to organize a casual Sunday brunch at yours and invite them along.

#7 be local!

Listen to podcasts hosting locally (even if you don’t fully understand the new language, this is the ideal way to learn and see who and what is buzzing in your new city! Follow local businesses and news outlets. Attend new store openings and try new restaurants. Contact their owners and get out of your comfort zone!

So as I just relocated once again, I am keen to hear your tips on where to connect, how make friends and other tricks to adapt to a new culture fast! Merciiii

Evodie F.