When I first moved to Vienna, I was in sheer heaven. I was living the dream and nothing could stop me from joyous, adventurous European life. Until the home sickness kicked in that is. I quickly started missing the things that I had left behind in Atlanta; my family, my friends, my language and my culture. I felt like an alien in my new home and I couldn't feel more guilty about it. I felt ungrateful, like I was betraying my new life and my new husband. But that's just the truth of it.
Moving to a new place, is exciting and fun and beautiful. But sometimes, it's really hard, daunting at times, and lonely. And if you're like me, you deny your true feelings, push them deep down and try to look on the bright side, which helps a bit, but not completely. Neither does relying on your spouse to do EVERYTHING with you. That just puts more strain on your relationship. (So, so sorry J).
But let's be real, making friends and meeting people is hard! Especially when you're sort of an introvert, super awkward, and you're not in school or working yet. BUT the silver lining is that, you are not ALONE! Almost every expat I've ever talked to feels the same anxious thoughts that you might be feeling about meeting new people in your new city.
So take heart, in the fact that people are just as nervous to reach out to you, as you are to them and just go for it! We're all a little bit weird, or awkward or silly and we've just got to find the weird that matches our weird, which just takes time, a little bit of research, a couple of cocktails, some unanswered friend requests and a touch of bravery!
Here are some resources that have helped me make some of the connections with some really amazing people. Hopefully, it helps you make your transition wherever you are settling, a little bit easier!
Social Media: Seriously, use it. I'm a part of multiple Facebook groups: "Americans in Vienna" "Women of Vienna" "Expats in Vienna" "Grumpy Expat". They all serve their own purpose and even if I'm just stalking the site for "where to find crafting supplies", they are helpful. Instagram is your best friend too, use hashtags to find other, anxious-friend-searching-people like yourself and go out for coffee (and cake)! I've had lots of amazing girl dates from Instagram. That sounds weird, but you gotta do what you gotta do!
Church: Jesse and I went to about 5 english speaking churches to find a good community for us. We were surprised at the amount of english speaking churches, and American pastors in Vienna. Check these out if you're interested!
Sports: I tried the basketball route last year, it didn't really work out, but I did meet some really awesome girls! Try out kickboxing, join a gym, do some CrossFit or some other community based sport. There are tons of groups on Facebook that you can join for "meet ups" and runs in whatever city you're in! You just have to search it, and try them out!
Take a language course:
Your peers will most likely be on the same level as you, as far as being in a new environment and needing social interaction is concerned. Take advantage of it and be friends. It would be a great way to practice whatever language you are trying to learn!
Be Bold: This ones easier said than done but you gotta put yourself out there to make friends. It's hard but you'll be so glad you pushed the send on your awkward message to that random girl who also likes pugs and thrift stores! She might respond and yes to meet up!
We all need community. I know I sureeeee as hell do. The more I hang out with myself, the weirder and weirder I get. I'm selling myself really well, I know, but if you're new to Vienna (or not new), I would love to have coffee with you!
And if you're settled into your city and have no idea why you just read this post, remember that you have the power to make someone feel like they belong and that they are loved. So pass kindness on and offer a helping hand to the newbies in your city. It will make your life and theirs, that much more full and beautiful!
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