Tuesday, 11 June 2013

making friends in a new place

- An invisible red threat connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance - 

This might seem a little bit lame to write about, but I wanted to share my experiences of making friends in new places. When you're backpacking, friendship comes quickly and easily. The majority of people you meet are open and friendly because they want the same from you in return. Everyone wants to have an amazing experience and the people you meet are part of that. And in future, you welcome them with open arms if the chance comes up to meet again. Unfortunately, its a whole other story when you move somewhere to live. 

New Years Eve in Edinburgh with friends (yay!)
This is the the fourth time I have moved overseas, and it is has by far been the hardest settling in. 

Partying in Wellington...miss these parties!

The first time I moved I was 16. I jumped on a plane to Kansas, almost as far as I could have gone from home, and I certainly felt the distance. I'm showing my age, but this was before Facebook, Skype, or the ease of  international txting through phone data. Despite this I managed to make friends easily because I was placed in a situation to do so. I was at high school for a start, plus I had my amazing host sister, Sarah, and I had an instant connection with other exchange students because we understood each other. The most difficultly I had was coming to terms with the fact that most of my friends from home seemed to forget about me once I was out of sight, and I didn't hear from most of them for my entire year away. As a consequence, I had a harder time settling in when I got back to New Zealand. 

Sarah and I when I visited in 2006

The second time was another exchange program to Canada when I was 22. Again, I was able to make friends almost immediately and without too much effort. It basically required me to say yes to doing everything I could possibly do. When you are in a situation where you are surrounded by like minded people, and they are also wanting the same things as you then its easy to form a connection and from there, a genuine friendship. By this time I was also older, and had moved to a new city in the meantime for University, so I was familiar with doing that. 

First year freshers 2006!!! Back in the day...

Terrorising Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics
Road trip on Vancouver Island
The third experience was a little different, in that I had more control of my decision to move to Australia, and I wasn't moving for a particular purpose. This meant I wasn't immediately thrown in with other people who were in a similar situation. Despite that, I had one of my most best friends Kim not far from where I was living, and I had my family. Because I knew it was a relatively temporary move and I was going on to the UK, I didn't make such a conscious effort to make new friends. I was happy to spend time with my family in thee knowledge that I hadn't properly lived in the same place as my whole family since I was 16, and my parents since I was 18, and I was now 24. How things change when you are a bit older! I still managed to meet some great people through my work and Kim however, and I felt like I had an amazing year that didn't lack in the social department by any means. 

My Mum, Dad and I at Bluesfest

Palmy party on the Goldie Shore

Me and my brother on my 25th birthday
Bestest!!! Reads my mind.

Now that I will have been in the UK for 6 months on Saturday (albeit not settled in Scotland that long) I am evaluating how things are going so far. And I'm really not sure...

I have met lots of lovely people, but I still feel like I haven't made many friends. In saying that, I haven't long been at work and when you are sitting around filling in time and have no money it's hard to get out there! I don't want this to come across the wrong way, but it can be really hard to sort of "break in" as such. People who have moved to a new place will probably understand this. Quite often you meet great people, but you don't feel like you can rely on them all the time to want to spend time with you. When you do it's great, but when they have a social circle they may have had for many years it's hard to suddenly become a part of that, and sometimes they might just plain forget that you could be sitting at home by yourself on a Friday or Saturday night with nothing to do. 

Saturday night...me and my computer on the couch!

Just in clarification this isn't about anyone in particular, but I feel like I can attest to this because I have been on the other end of it. I have been at home with all my friends I've known for years who come from similar backgrounds to me and it can just feel easier to stick to what you know and not make the extra effort to involve someone new. Having said that, I have also made the effort, and it is well worth it. You can never have too many friends in my opinion! Everyone you meet can contribute to your life in some way, and you should try and be open to that. 
UK in NZ

Displaced Kiwis united in London

On this note, by recommendation from Kim (my spirit guide) I have joined the Meetup website. A site where people can form groups that others of similar interests can join, and create events where people can meet. I have sat and watched for a month as various meetups have occurred, and I have finally decided to attend one on Thursday. It's for international girls living in Edinburgh, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to meet other people in a similar situation to me. So we will see what happens!

Old friends in new places
In saying all of this, I have thought of one more thing to add. I think in some ways it is both easier and harder for me to be away from home and friends. Easier in that I am at the point in my life where many of my friends are all over New Zealand and all over the world. I know not everyone that I care about will ever all be in one place! So I don't feel like I'm the only one away from one particular place and missing out on everything that is going on at home. However, it is also harder in that I don't feel as though I have a base in the world, and it can feel lonely knowing that no matter where I go I will not be surrounded by familiar people and places and be able to slot back into a life with a huge social group. 

I wouldn't change a thing though. Give me homes and friends all over the world any day! As Claire said to me recently...

- There is magic in long distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more profound -  



  1. The UK is blessed to have you for two years! Looking forward to chatting to you next week and hearing about your jam packed weekend. Love always xxx

  2. sounds like a very good opportunity joining this new group so you can continue to meet like minded people from all walks of life from around the World. Travel broadens your mind and only people that have travelled are the ones to open up to new friendships.

    Kim and I were just talking to Jenny and Alex at the weekend about this very subject and how they have come to realise from living in different places/countries that only people that have travelled want to get to know more about you :)

    Look forward to hearing more about the interesting people you met in the Group last night and your adventures.

    Love Mum xoxoxo