During an afternoon coffee with some friends, who like me are also British students living in Paris, we started reminiscing about our gruelling first experiences in Paris and how difficult it was to make friends.
“The problem with living in a metropolis like Paris, it that people lead such busy lives that nobody really has time to meet new people”
“Most Parisians already have their own friendship group, meeting new people, especially foreigners is not one of there priorities”
Their comments really got me thinking. If you had to think about it, how does one make friends while abroad? Never have I thought of making friends in such an artificial way, almost as if there is an art to meeting new people and developing relationships. Yet, despite living in Paris, which is home to over 7 million people, myself and the many foreigners I encounter find it a daily struggle to make friends.
As a student doing an internship abroad, I don’t have the same social benefit as studying abroad and being surrounded by people from similar age groups and backgrounds. Although, what I love about my experience as an intern is that it has allowed me to step out of the social constructions created by school and university.
I don’t believe for one second that Parisians are less friendly than other people, I just feel that we as foreigners need to try harder! So I thought I’d come up with a couple of ways you can ‘step out of your comfort zone’ to socialise and meet new people in Paris.
Kind of self-explanatory really. Meetup is a site where you join a group and meet new people who share similar interests to yourself. Some people shy away from Meetup as they think its an unnatural way to meet people. However, I think that we have all come to realise that meeting people from the internet no longer bears such social stigma and makes everything so much easier! From running groups to cooking groups you’re bound to find something that suits your needs and personality. Its a great way to meet like-minded people and participate in fun activities, plus sign-up is free!
For those who want to socialise and improve their foreign language skills in the process, this is the perfect social platform for you. Franglish is kind of like speed-dating, but without the dating. The idea is to speak to someone in 7 minutes in your native language and then switch to the target language as soon as the 7 minutes are up. Both participants benefit from the language exchange and its a great way to meet the natives!
This is a new discovery to me and I’m quite excited about it. Couch surfing is more than just finding a place to sleep for the night but a site hosting a community of ‘couch surfers’ who are willing to help you rediscover the city around you. Couch surfers organise regular events around the world so there is always something to do and new people to meet.
Friends of Friends!
This may seem a little desperate but asking your friends to introduce you to their friends is a great way to meet new people and expand your social network. Before, you know it, your friend’s friend is introducing you to her friends and so on and so forth, it really becomes a domino effect!
Make the most of your free time!
One of the most important things I have learnt whilst living in Paris is that you really need to make the most of your free time. If your only doing a year abroad like myself you do not really have that much time to establish relationships. Therefore, you soon realise that is it social suicide to be a couch potato and that the more you get out of the house, the better chance you have of meeting people!
What about you? How do you make friends when you are abroad?