Friendships adjustments we need to make after moving abroad

Discover the essential adjustments needed for friendships when relocating abroad, navigating cultural differences, maintaining old connections, and forging new ones.

Maayan & Gal Founders of Smoozitive

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Smoozitive Magazine/Family & Wellness/Friendships adjustments we need to make after moving abroad

Moving and living abroad is an amazing adventure, filled with endless possibilities and new experiences. But let's be honest, we're social creatures. So alongside all the excitement, there are certain adjustments we must make - some of which are related to our friendships, both new and old.

Things like cultural adaptation, social changes, international relationships, long-distance friendships, and making new friends are key. Although it might feel like 'another task' - there is a lot of positive in this adjustment process too. Let's get into this.

Friend. [frend] noun. Someone who is aware of how 'special' you are and still agree to be seen with you in public. Who can make you laugh until you pee your pants; even from the other side of the world.

Isn't it wild when two complete strangers, turn into genuine friends?

It always fascinates us, this 'click' or 'Aha moment' when you realize this person you've been getting to know . . . is actually becoming your friend. We never really know how and when it happens, it just does. And it feels pretty awesome when it happens, right?!
As adults, creating new friendships can be challenging. We don't have that many interactions with new people as we used to have before. Maybe we're just making it more complicated than it is. Look how kids are doing it, simple, right?

Either way, because we are social creatures (some more than others, we know), we make sure we have friends around.​

three new friends smiling together after relocating to new country Photo by Matheus G.O on Unsplash

When living abroad, this whole notion of friendships tends to be even more challenging.​

We have our friendships from back home - and they are super valuable to us. But somewhere down the road, we might lose some of those. At the same time, we want a friend in the new country where we live (maybe more than one) with who we can meet for a cup of coffee.

So we tend to stay where it is "comfortable" & known. We accumulate and hold onto friendships that no longer serve a purpose or that we have any pleasure in them. Or we try to make new friendships mainly with others that speak the same native language as us. Because it seems like they'll get us better, and it will definitely be easier to communicate with them.

Don't get us wrong, most of us also keep in touch with excellent friends that we should continue to have in our lives! And making new friends who speak the same language, is actually a smart move - for a start at least.​

Why Friendship Adjustments Are Recommended After Moving Abroad?

Friendships exist for a purpose. They should make us feel good and give us as much as it requires from us. It is not about the number of times you talk or meet. It's about the feelings.

How does this person, this friendship, make you feel?

When we find ourselves in a new place, new country, it is actually a great opportunity to ask ourselves "Am I in a positive, healthy friendship?". It's true for both our friendships back home, and the new one where we currently live. Why? Simply because it's easier. We're physically afar, so we can look at this connection from a different angle.

Like everything in life, nothing is black or white, same goes for friendships. We all have ups and downs - that's normal. But overall when you think of a friend, how does he/she make you feel? And be honest with yourself.

Maybe some friendships should become secondary, while others take the lead. Maybe it's time to invest more in a certain friendship, or create new ones.

It really is up to you. You decide who you have in your life - so make sure you have the right one with you - and thank them for being your friends! We talked a little bit more about it here, check it out.

Now, if you're in a new country, here are some things to keep in mind

One of the biggest challenges when moving abroad is adapting to a new culture. This obviously can also affect your friendships, both new and old, as cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

Understanding And Navigating Cultural Differences​

Every country has its own unique culture, customs, and social norms. When you move to a new country, you may find that some of these cultural differences are vastly different from what you are used to. It's not better or worse, it's different. And the sooner you'll accept it - the easier life will be for you.

It can be as simple as the way they drink their coffee, or how they spend their Sundays. For example, in some cultures, it is customary to greet people with a kiss on the cheek (it took us sooo long to get used to it after moving to France. Seriously, still don't totally get it haha) while in others, a handshake is the norm. These differences may seem small, but they can have a significant impact on how you interact with others and form friendships.

When it comes to building and maintain friendships in a new country, it is essential to understand and respect the cultural differences. The fun part is that it really depends who you're making friends with: locals? or other expats. Because each will have a different culture. This means the more open-minded and willing to learn about the different customs and traditions you'll be - the better you'll navigate those differences.

It's up to you

Don't mean to be harsh, but no one will do it for you. We mean, maintaining and building new friendships in a new country. It's your responsibility. Why? Because you're the one that made the change.

It's up to you to step out of your comfort zone, engage with others, and show genuine interest in forming meaningful connections. If you won't put yourself out there - how will they know you? We added some tips below to help you out, but the overall idea is that you got to make some efforts.

With some it will work, with others less. It doesn't mean they are against expats, or hate foreigners - it was just not the right connection, and that's totally fine. Think of yourself in your home country, you haven't welcomed just anybody to your circle, right?!

As for the home-friends, keeping long distance relationships can be tough. Although you both have each other's numbers, not everyone knows how to maintain those virtual friendships. But if it's important for you - you can make it work! We sure did (still do).

Four Tips To Make New Friends Abroad and Maintain Old Ones​

Be Open to New Experiences

Moving to a new country means being exposed to new cultures, traditions, and experiences. Embrace these new experiences and be open to trying new things. This can help you connect with others who share similar interests and can lead to new friendships. Plus, your friends from back home might want to join you for some adventure (ski trip in the Alpes anyone?)

Join Local Groups and Activities

Joining local groups and activities is an excellent way to meet new people and form friendships. Look for groups that share your interests, such as hiking, cooking, or language exchange. This can help you connect with like-minded individuals and make new friends. If you don't find an existing group, create one!

You'll be amazed by the amount of people you'll meet thanks to this. Gal for example, created a group for those who'd like to watch Formula 1 GP together at the pub and she met over 100 people, plus made a couple of great friends.

Be Patient and Understanding

Forming new friendships takes time, especially in a new country. You won't have the same depth of 15-years long friendships you had back home after 3 months. Building strong and meaningful friendships takes time and effort, but it is worth it in the end. So, be patient and understanding.

This is also true towards your friends from back home. Your relationship changed, you got to figure out how to make it work long distance.

Use Technology to Stay in Touch

Thanks to technology, staying in touch with friends and family back home is easier than ever. Use video calls, messaging apps, and social media to stay connected with your old friends. This can help you feel less isolated and maintain your relationships despite the distance. Little piece of advice - book a 'friends date' in your calendar.

Sometimes out-of-sight is out-of-mind, so when it's booked, it's easier to make sure you spend this 'coffee time' together even if you're physically in two different countries. It's the same for family members ;)

Friendly reminder (you see what we did here?😋) :

Life abroad is challenging enough, don't make it harder for yourself, especially when it comes to the people surrounding you. Sprinkle a little extra kindness, laughter, love and joy into each day (toward yourself, and others). Here's to the countless adventures, inside jokes, and unforgettable moments that await you - because in the end, it's the connections we make that truly make life abroad feel like home.

Maayan & Gal
Founders of Smoozitive

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