Making Friends..#expat #england

Whatever your circumstances, whether it is a new town or new country or both, making friends can be daunting. When moving with a family the first order of business is setting up your home, settling the kids into school, finding the essentials ( markets, doctors, tradesmen etc...) and learning the lay of the land.  Finally, with those tasks at hand you start to think about yourself. If you are like me, you may procrastinate over this thought because it can be an overwhelming task especially if you have done it a few times before.

Invariably, expats are always asked..."How long are you here for?" and "Where do you call home?"
My children usually groan when they hear this because they know it is not an easy question for Mom to answer and they know it usually leads to a lengthy answer.

They pity the poor souls that ask. If you have lived in several countries, call each one home, have children spread out wide and far and are uncertain where you be at the end of the journey than I am sure you can relate to this.

So what does an expat do?  I find getting involved in as many things as possible does the trick. First order of business is to check in with the schools and look for volunteer opportunities. One has to remember to be wise on this front as they usually assign the job that no one else wants to the newcomer. If need be, take it, it is a start! 

Secondly, seek out groups that offer an opportunity to meet with like minds. It has been a while since I have joined a woman's group but there is such a wide selection in the London area that I figured, why not?  From here, the calendar will start to fill up quickly.

If you are like me, you may have forgotten a little thing called exercise. I must admit, this always tends to be at the top of my procrastination list. Must remind myself to do it...soon.

Once you have sign up you must attend these gatherings. You soon become a pro at entering rooms where you do not know a soul. If you always hated this you soon learn to get over it. Always enter a room smiling as someone is bound to return the favour.

Think Diane and go from there.

When that smile is returned... the anxiety you walked in with starts to melt away. Another tip if you are meeting someone for the first time in a public place, tell then what you will be wearing. I have been in the position more than once of walking up to people and asking if they are so and so. You start to feel like a blubbering idiot by the second or third one! weary of wearing black, you won't be the only one!

I can't say this is the golden rule to making friends but it works for me.
If you are new to the expat experience, try some of the suggestions above. 
I think you will find your world will soon be a brighter place.

Here a few places to start the ball rolling:

Welcome Clubs International 

American Expats

Expatriate Clubs in the UK

Expate Expert

Images via Google

Return to Collage of Life 


  1. Jeanne, I think you are doing brilliantly, you are truly exportable (comment coined by MG's father) "some people are not exportable".
    I am sure you will be thrilled to know I have a print of the first photo on your post hanging in my downstairs loo!
    Have a lovely afternoon.

  2. I can so much relate to this! At one point my daughter (age 4 at that time) asked me:"Mum, where will I celebrate my B-Day next year?" -Gulp-
    Friends think I'm on this constant vacation here in Italy. We, on the other hand, are trying to build up our lives (which we already have of course, but many things are still very new to us). So, meeting other Expats is a great help, but that doesn't take away this feeling of uncertainty; how many years are we going to stay here. And where will we go when the time is there?! In the meantime...(We should)Enjoy (y)our stay! XXX, C.

  3. Carmie...glad to hear I am not alone on this one! My son asked what he was suppose to say when asked where he is from. Born in Australia, American parents and he has never lived there, spent the last four years in New Zealand and now living in England. His accent is a blend of everything. To top it off he has an Australian and American passport. Like you, those are the moments that make you pause. I just tell him what a lucky boy he is!

  4. Darling, no matter where your travels land you, someone as lovely as you will always make friends - you are kind, sweet and true. They are lucky to have you!

  5. You are too kind kids would beg to differ!

  6. Great tips Jeanne and I am sure you will make LOADS of friends in England... as Stephanie says they are lucky to have you... Love the pic. of Diane K. too.. x

  7. Loved reading this Jeanne - I always feel that being an expat is a 'chicken & egg' situation - I'm never sure if you are able to move around with relative ease because you are inherently socially brave or do you become so because you have to, spurred into non-procrastination by the sheer necessity to make a life wherever you land?
    This post is so close to my heart as I constantly ponder the effect of moving continents on a regular basis, especially on my daughter who constantly tells me she feels she doesn't have a 'home'!! As in any other situation, the way to happiness is to take the proverbial bull by the horns and get on with life and living wherever you might be...just as you are doing.. x

  8. Thanks Susie, this is a tough one and I find that finding the perfect solution is nearly impossible. I think your GG and my Christine could start an expat children's group as they sound like they both think along the same lines. I am sure there are many more out there with the same thought. I remind the kids of all the great opportunities they have had and the life skills they are now blessed with but somehow I think they are not quite at the age of fully appreciating that just yet. The raised eyebrow usually follows my comments which means..."Here she goes again".
    I think the 'bull by the horn' is the only way to go sometimes and full steam ahead!

  9. Great post. Wish I had had it at the beginning of my career. After stumbling my way through numerous periods of "making new friends" in new countries, I eventually built up a repretoire similar to yours, and as you know from experience, it all works out very well in the end.

    As I am no longer travelling, and my friends are now relatively fixed, I envy you a bit--the exploration of people, the trying out and development of new friendships. May be I will take some of your suggestions and apply them now.

  10. Ha... I too get asked that question in spite of my 15 years in France (yesterday). I sort of miss picking up and starting over... even the kids want to now.