Finding Friends in New Place: A Quick Guide

Finding Friends in New Place: A Quick Guide

It’s May! Spring is coming to an end and summertime is just right around the corner (yay). This also means that graduation season is officially here!

With graduation approaching, a new phase of life is about to begin. For some of you, this includes starting a new life in a new place.

How are you feeling?

Excited? Nervous? Scared? A little bit of everything? I get it, it’s totally normal!

A year ago, I decided to pack up my life in LA and move across the globe to Hong Kong for my first job post-graduation. I really only knew one person in town and it was honestly pretty scary to know that I’ll have to build another social network here.  

Now that I’ve been here for a while and (somewhat) managed to settle in, I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me!

Explore alumni network

As an extrovert who gets energy from being around people, my biggest concern when moving here was whether I’d be able to find friends I can get along and hang out with. I left behind my solid group of friends in the States (miss yall), so I made it a mission to find people here.

Not going to lie, I thought finding friends would be a much easier process, like I’d just be best friends with my coworkers or the first person I meet outside work. Turns out, I actually have to try this time around and really put myself out there.

I started off by exploring my university alumni network. Even when I was still in LA and getting ready to move, I began browsing for USC alums who are in Hong Kong and connect with them online (LinkedIn is a safe first choice). I found that most of them are very helpful and open to help a fellow USC person, and they were excited for me to join them in HK. These people have gone through what you are about to go through themselves, so save yourself some trouble by getting their advice before your move. Since most alum are older than you, chances are, they are also a really good source to get professional insights so you know what to expect.

For example, one of the usc alum I connected with, turns out to be a tech recruiter who moved here a couple years ago. She was very helpful throughout the job hunting process and guided me through a lot of the things I had to figure out – like salary and housing. We still keep in touch to this day, and it’s always good to know that she’s there to help me when I need her.

Definitely take advantage of your school alumni network and start making connections as early as possible, I’m sure this will come in handy soon!

Events, events, events

I know I know, events may seem intimidating and exhausting. But events are often the fool-proof way to meet people. Start with ones you are somewhat familiar with, university organized one or even a networking event within your industry are both a good start. Oftentimes, everyone’s just as lost as you, looking for people they can talk to so really it’s not as intimidating as it looks!

Last fall, I went to a random happy hour USC organized on a Thursday night. I dreaded going but believe it or not, it turned out to be the night I met most of my friends. We bond over USC struggles and white wine, and the rest is history. So yes, 10/10 would recommend.

Meetup

Another tool I used a lot when I first moved to HK is Meetup. Meetup is a site where strangers arrange events and get together. The events range from a simple lunch to movie to hikes to actual trips away. It’s a great way to explore your interests and the choices are endless! It’s also a well known international website, so chances are, this should exist in your city too!

Meetup was a good way to meet strangers from all kinds of background in a less awkward way and you go into it knowing that everyone is on the same boat, also trying to make friends. I’d recommend starting easy with lunch or drinks and explore a few different groups before giving up on it completely (lol).

Online dates

I’m not sure if this one is wise advice per se, but I’ve found that going on dates are the best way to truly explore the city. I like going into new places and trying out new food on my dates, and I’ve been shown some true gems of the city from my dates. From secret parks to island exploring to (almost questionable) street food that I grew to love, I wouldn’t have known without those dates. So if you’re up for it, get on those apps and swipe away 😉

Say yes!

At the end of the day, try to keep an open mind and really put yourself out there. This is your chance to start a new life and get out of your comfort zone (and your bed) and try something new! One of the most random things I agreed on, was to crash someone’s birthday celebration where we went golfing on some island far, far away. I’ve never played golf before in my life, and I didn’t know who this birthday girl even was. But I thought why not, I’ll go. That day turned out to be really great and I met some of my closest friends then. So you really never know!

But also, I want to emphasize that it’s okay to feel lonely. This is a new experience, and it’s totally normal if you feel like you don’t belong. Even when you are in a big and busy city like Hong Kong, where you are constantly surrounded by hundreds of people, it could still feel lonely sometimes and that’s perfectly okay! It’s all part of the process.

Give yourself the time and chance to explore, and I’m sure you’ll find your people in no time! Until then, good luck on your move!

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