If you have lived in a different country other than your country of birth, you will understand how important it is to make new friends and what it can do for a new migrant, newcomer, or former refugee.
Many people are lucky and able to travel, visit or live in different countries, me included. As your journey takes you places, you meet different people from different cultures and nationalities.
For young people, it’s easy for them to connect and make friends with social media and other networking tools at their finger tips. It can also be isolating as most relationship these days are virtual.
What is this form of virtual friendship or relationship building doing to our race as humans? We are loosing confidence skills to communicate effectively, in person.
For new migrants who may have arrived in a new country, the challenge is often to get people to talk to you in person. Even when you make the effort to call people, you get voice mails and your calls are not returned. This could frustrate and discourage some people from trying.
Making friends in a new country is not as easy as it once was. It is also a key fact that if people don’t have friends in their new country, it would lead to isolation and even depression.
Some new migrants have arrived here from countries where they have a large family circle and did not have the need to extend connecting with people outside of that circle.
They now find themselves in a new country where they have to actively seek friends to connect with their new country. This is the challenge and one that we will find ways to overcome by following these four simple steps.
1) Find the confidence to go outside your house and connect. When you arrive in a new country, the onus is on you to connect to that place. How you do this will vary depending on your belief and culture. The first key to settling is make friends or gaining acquaintances that will support you.
In my experience living in different countries, my first point of connection when I unpack my belongings is to find a local church as I am a Christian. For others it could be the Mosque, Temple, gym, children’s school PTA, Social clubs, Library etc. Anywhere to get you out of the house and mingling with people.
2) Find the Confidence to learn the language
If you have moved to a country where the Lagrange is different to you mother tongue, learn the language. Why? So you can interact with people. Most new migrants will be shy and worried about speaking for fear of getting it wrong. But remember, if you don’t make an effort, you will not learn. Mistakes are part of learning and the more you learn from your mistakes the better you get at not making them. There are many ways that you can improve your language skills. Attending language classes. Joining groups that will offer you the opportunity for conversation, volunteering at opportunity shops, your child’s school etc. Practice, practice and practice.
3)Find the confidence to get to know your neighbours. When I first moved into my neighbourhood, I knocked to say hello to one of my neighbours and got a cold reception. She opened the door slightly and stuck her head out and asked what I wanted. Experiences like that is enough to put anyone off connecting. But you can’t give up after a first encounter. That neighbor may have had a bad day and not need to see or speak to any one. If you get a cold reception, try again next time, when they are in a better mood.
4) Find the confidence to share your culture. Invite people to your house and share your culture. We, as human beings have an inquiring mind. We want to know but we don’t want to ask. In most cases we don’t have the courage to ask due to fear of rejection or cultural barriers. The world is becoming a mixture of different ethnicity and cultures. This has opened up opportunities for us to learn about other people and how they live. If you are new to a place, be ready to share and open your house to others and enrich them with your cultures.
Invite your neighbours, encourage them to bring their own culture to share with you. Ask questions about what is culturally acceptable in your new homeland and share yours.
Open mindedness and inquisitive mind will help you settle and connect.
Understanding of our cultural difference and diversity will make for an enhanced and long-lasting neighbourly relationship.
Fee free to share your thoughts and get in touch here.
You can sign up to attend upcoming Confidence building and career development workshop for New Migrants here
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