One of the most challenging things for new immigrants is feeling connected in a new country. Everything that is familiar is not present on a daily basis. Although using SKYPE to chat with family and friends back home helps, it’s not the same as having someone right here.
Isolation is very real for immigrants who do not already have a support system of friends and family in the new country. Especially if you are not already fluent in the new language. Or if you don’t have a driver license yet. In regions where there is little sunlight in the winter, it can be depressing. So what can we do to meet new friends when we don’t know anyone?
The article How to make friends in a new country addresses this topic in details. The tips also apply to international students. In a way, students could have easier access to making new friends. They can join a study group for a particular class. If there isn’t one already, you can start one. Because the group is smaller, and you already have a class in common, it could be easier to develop friendships. International advisors often create activities to help international students feel more at home.
I’ve worked with family members of engineers who relocated to Seattle. If they are not already fluent in the new language, they are often home-bound until their spouse is home from work. It helps if they learn to use the public transportation system so they can get around by themselves.
In Bellevue’s Crossroads Mall, a group named ELLA (English Language Learning Alliance) provides conversation groups and ESL classes. They go on field trips sometimes. Check if your area has something similar to this. Your library is an excellent resources because there are events held in their meeting rooms. Talk Time is a popular group, free of charge for those who want to practice conversing in English with volunteers. You do not need to register. Just drop in. Check if your area has these groups. Sometimes they are held at churches.
Meetup.com has groups for every interest. If you like outdoor activities, you can probably find a group of people who like doing the same thing. Go to one of their meetings and see if you like the group. If not, check out another group until you find one you like. Having these social connections will help you feel more at home in the new country.
Here is the entire article of How to make friends in a new country.
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If you find this blog helpful, here is another one on Discussion Skills for ESL Students.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email email@example.com