Moving to a new country where you do not necessarily speak the language and know no one can be incredibly daunting. Having experienced that just this year, it can be difficult at first, but there are lots of ways of meeting and making new friends. It’s only after a year of living away in another country has the amazing amount of possibilities of doing just this become apparent to me, and I wish I had known sooner! Hence why I am writing this blog post – to help all those becoming Au Pairs to meet new people when moving to a new country. Just because this blog post is aimed primarily at Au Pairs, does not mean that International Students or anyone in general cannot follow these tips – they’re made for everyone!
One of the best places to meet other Au Pairs is at you language classes. Most Au Pairs will attend a language school of some kind, and depending on the school most of the other students will be Au Pairs. In fact, my school was primarily filled with Au Pairs, and my weekly classes were just Au Pairs! This makes it a really easy way to meet others. The good thing about being in an environment like this is that you’re all in the same boat – you are all looking after kids, probably living with a family and in a different country to where you call home. I met some of my best friends in my class, and am so glad that I did!
I would suggest inviting people for coffee or a walk around the city after class. That way you can talk to the other students without interrupting the class!
This is one of the ways to meet people that I completely regret not doing sooner. Language Exchange is just that – you meet with someone to exchange your language for theirs. Typically, once you’ve exchanged a few emails or messages online, you’ll meet somewhere in public like a nice cafe and just talk! I met a great friend doing just this – She helped with my French and vice versa. The great thing about Language Exchange is that both parties benefit. It’s also a great way to meet those living in the city, whether they be newbies like yourself or natives. A better way for learning the cultures of the country your in and their language is to be become friends with a native, which is exactly what language exchange offers.
Whilst I’ve only used Conversation Exchange, there are other websites out there to check out for Language Exchanges, for example: My Language Exchange and Italki.
Facebook – Au Pair Groups
There are a wealth of Facebook groups out there devoted to Au Pairs or International students. To find them all you need to do is search ‘Au Pair [and the country you are in]’. There should be plenty of groups to join. Once joining, you can read other people’s posts and post yourself.
In fact, one of the Au Pair groups that I joined hosted an international picnic for all the Au Pairs interested to come and meet others. It was at one of these picnics that I met some of my bestest friends – and I’m so glad that I did! I had nearly decided not to attend, but realised that even though I didn’t know anybody, it’s a great way to meet new people.
Many Au Pair Facebook groups host other events and I recommend checking them out. You never know, like me you might find some people who will become your closest friends whilst living abroad.
If you don’t know what Meet Up is, then where have you been!? Meet Up is an online social platform ‘that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world.’ Basically, there are loads of ‘clubs’ or ‘societies’ if you will on Meet Up, where you can join any group depending on your interests and hobbies. For example, there are loads of fitness groups you can join. Whilst in Paris, some friends and I joined one where you got to partake in boot camps at a discounted price. If fitness isn’t your thing then do not fret, because there is literally a group for everything! There are lots of language exchange groups, groups for those interested in Photography and much more.
With Meet Up, you’re likely to meet a whole host of people from all over the city. Whilst there might not be as many Au Pairs, there will be lots of native people or expats, making it a great way to make new friends.
Join a Sports Club
Depending on what level and your passion, joining a sports club can be a great way to meet local people. Whilst here in Paris, I joined a local tennis club. Thankfully I was able to get a slight discount on the yearly fee due to being an Au Pair and wanting to play for the team, otherwise I doubt I would have been able to afford it. Joining the tennis club meant that not only did I meet new people, but as part of a team I was able to join in competitions and play for the Ladies team. I made lots of new friends through that, and even managed to get an English Tutoring Job for a family of one of the women I played with! So if you’re an avid sports fan and will devote the time to play in order to get your moneys worth, then I definitely recommend it.
Just speak to people!
Whilst we’ve all been brought up with the motto ‘Never speak to Strangers’, sometimes it is a good thing to do just that. Normally you can suss out pretty quickly who looks ‘normal’ or not (though defining ‘normal’ is a whole other topic). I have had a few Au Pair friends make lots of new friends by doing that – talking to people! Whether on the metro, in a park or in a bar, talking to people will open a new world of making friends. Just remember to be careful!
Have you been an Au Pair or perhaps an expat living in another country? If so, I’d love to hear your tips for those moving to a new place on how to make friends and meet others.