Relocating to any country is a daunting process with many things to consider and take into account such as where to live, how to set up a bank account, dealing with a different currency, a different style of life, different culture. The list goes on and on. Now that I look back on it, surprisingly there were a lot of things I hadn’t thought about. Isn’t hindsight a beautiful thing?! Once you’ve taken care of all the important and often boring stuff it’s time to think about your social circle. Your social life can define your relocation experience and how you feel about your new home. Back in your homeland you’ve got an established circle of pals/buddies/mates/acquaintances. Whatever you want to call your clique, they’re all there with no real need to expand this core group further. But what about when they’re all in another country? A whatsapp group chat doesn’t quite cut it. The realization hit me and to quote Paul Rudd in one of my favourite movies – I Love You Man – “I gotta get some fuckin’ friends”
When I came to Amsterdam I pretty much knew just one person, my very good friend James L. He’d been in Amsterdam for one year and had been instrumental in making the move a little less scary. James had already made plenty of mates and many of which I can now happily also call my friends but I was also conscious I had to get out there and find some of my own. But how? where? Going up to some dude in a bar and asking him to be your friend was going to give totally the wrong impression and is just plain weird! I was never the most forward of people in the past.
I looked into meetup groups, groups where people with similar interests gather, chat and as the name suggests meet up. But in the end I didn’t actually attend any. I felt like using these groups to meet people was almost admitting defeat and that I couldn’t find friends by myself, that there must have been something wrong with my character. Which now I have to say I see as a bit of a stupid way to look at it but at the time that was my feeling. So now what?
In my experience the people who make up this wonderful city are pretty open with Amsterdam being a very multi-cultural city made up of locals as well as many expats just like me. This common ground is an ideal way to make a connection and before long you’ll find it second nature to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before. It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there, getting out of your comfort zone and stop being a pussy! Bars, Parties, through other friends are great ways to meet people but the key is to follow it up. If you meet someone you get on with, exchange numbers and arrange to meet up again. Being the person to take the initiative and send that first message is the final hurdle and pretty soon you’ll feel right at home with people who not so long ago were total strangers. I’ve made some amazing friends over the past 18 months, friends who I know will be in my life in one way or another for a very long time to come.
Relocating is more than just a journey for your clothes, photo’s and nick nack’s to make in a suitcase. It’s a journey of personal discovery and one I hope you enjoy as much as I continue to.