Friendships are the bread and butter of life. Whether you have one, or one hundred, friends will always be people we cherish.
It’s one of the first things we learn in life; bonding with others. We are taught to befriend those around us and form bonds to see us through the good times, and more importantly, the bad. It is no surprise then, that many people who move away from home feel isolated. Locked within the confines of their own company, not always knowing how to break free. Perhaps you are shy? Perhaps you have moved to a completely new place where you can’t speak the language?
Years ago, this would have been a tough problem to fix without actively going up to people in person and striking up a conversation with them. I don’t know you, but the thought of cosying up to a complete stranger in a coffee shop, or bar, terrifies me. Luckily, however, we can now build our social life without even leaving the comfort of our homes. Over the past few years, the internet has exploded; connecting people all over the world. Even now, as I type this article from my desk in my dinky apartment in Nagasaki, Japan, I am chatting with friends back in Wales. It really is amazing when you stop to think about it. Just a few clicks of buttons and I can connect with people thousands of miles away.
So, how can you use social media to make friends and stay connected in a foreign country?
1. Never Underestimate A Good App
The first thing I would do, is ask around (or even google) and find out what apps are used in the area you have moved too. In Japan, for example, LINE is really the only way young people communicate. Text messages are pretty much redundant and facebook is not so popular. Without LINE I would be easily forgotten in the phonebooks of new friends.
2. Get Snapping
Another, surprisingly good app for staying connected to people, is instagram. While I never have met up with any of them, I made a few instagram connections during my time here in Nagasaki, after searching tags relating to my area. Tags will be your weapon against boredom on instagram, not just for friends, but finding out cool places in your area which may lead to new friendships!
3. Making Friends in 120 Characters Or Less
And while we’re on the topic of hashtags, let’s not forget twitter. The home of all things short and sweet, twitter is the perfect place to connect with people in one hundred and twenty characters or less. Used widely in many countries, twitter could be a good way of not only making friends, but finding out what’s trending in your area and keeping you up to date with all that’s going on. If you’re not sure what hashtags to use, why not start with simple ones such as #(areaname) #tbloggers, #travel, or even #expat. These are a great plate to start and flex those hashtagging skills.
4. An International Affair
But what if you have enough friends, and it’s that special someone you are after? Well, I’m afraid to tell you it’s going to be a little tricky, especially online. While apps like Tinder and Grindr etc. are present in most countries these days, each country will more than likely have it’s own version, one more widely used and accessible. While Japan does use Tinder, other social medias such as Pairs and Omiai are very popular. So be sure to ask around and make sure you stay safe!
5. Breaking Bread
Language exchange is another great way to make friends. No matter where you are, there will be people eager in cultural and language exchange. Taking part in such events can not only help you learn about the area and pick up the language, but you can share your culture with other people who have perhaps never met someone from your country or area. It really is a fun experience and while going to real life events is fun, there are apps you can use, such as HelloTalk which is available in many languages.
6. Finding Your GirlGang
My last tip for finding friends is dedicated to all us ladies out there. In the last year or two, an app has been popping up around the internet, boasting their ability to get women connected and building friendships across the globe. That app is Vina. At the start I was a little nervous to try, but boy am I glad I did! Sadly, it has not yet really made it’s debut in Japan, but while I was on holidays in Canada, I got to connect with a whole bunch of cool ladies. When creating a profile, the app will give you fun quizzes to help set up your profile, letting others on the app get a glimpse at what kind of girl you are. Do you prefer a nice coffee and a chat or dancing all night with some juicy cocktails? Would you rather be outside surfing or going to museums? Vina is a nice and easy way to make friends with other women in your area. Catering to both extroverted and introverted women, I would definitely recommend this app and will be using it when I move country in a few months!
Making friends and finding romance will always be difficult, no matter where you are, but with the help of apps and social media, the struggle need not be as great. So get that profile set up, be safe and make some great lasting connections.