Moving to a foreign country to improve your language skills is an incredible opportunity. Whether you only have a short time in a foreign country, plan to stay for a year or more, or will be able to come back many times in the future, making connections in another country is a rewarding experience. A native speaker of a language may be your gateway into a new culture, meeting other native speakers, and getting to practice the language you are studying in a classroom.
In a way, the classroom is like a gym or sports training program where you exercise and practice what it will be like in a real game. But playing the real game on a real field is where the excitement truly is.
Similarly, if you study English for hours every week, but rarely use it out in the “real world,” you are missing critical time to practice, improve, and – most importantly – GROW.
There are many types of people and personalities, not to mention cultural and other influences which may predict how much someone is willing to go and talk to strangers. If you are very shy in your own language, speaking a foreign language can be intimidating.
On the other hand, we would not be giving you good advice if we said it was enough just to attend classes or practice on your own.
The following are five ways to start to meet and talk to Americans. America is a very diverse country with many types of people. Sometimes it may seem easy to have simple, quick, polite conversation with Americans but more difficult to become real friends. What are some ways to make a deeper connection?
Try to be realistic. Making great new friends quickly is hard. If you find a way to keep seeing the same person or people many times, we believe this is a key way to developing a deeper friendship.
You may have to push yourself a little bit, but all of these are ways to meeting new people and friends that you can spend time with again and again. When you know each other a little better, don’t be shy! Tell them you are new to the country and really want to spend more time with Americans. Whatever you heard about Americans in the news or thought from TV, etc., the fact is we are all just people, and we all enjoy making new friends.
1.) Volunteering: This allows you to practice your English, learn about the city and do meaningful work. There are many different types of volunteer jobs, so in order to find the best fit for you, try a volunteer site like www.volunteermatch.org. Try to pick a volunteering position which will let you speak English or meet other volunteers.
2.) Participate in Festivals and Events: Every weekend (and really every day) we see some type of activity in and around Atlanta that will have large crowds of people. Many are free while others may carry a low cost. This can also help you experience American and Atlanta culture, including music and food. Here is a good Atlanta events calendar: https://www.events12.com/atlanta/
3.) Join a Sports Team or Hobby Group: This is a great option for meeting new people, practicing your English and staying active. I’ve joined a baseball team and ultimate Frisbee team in the past and I had the best experiences learning a new sport and making friends. There are many websites to help you find the perfect sports team. Want to join a bowling league? Want to play Ultimate Frisbee? Find a good search website like this one http://www.atlantasportandsocialclub.com/ and find the team for you!
4.) Make New Friends With Social Media: It is easier than ever to make new friends when you take advantage of social media. Meetup is one site that helps people make new friends in a new city. But there’s also tons of sites that give you good ideas or specific places. https://www.meetup.com/GotANITM/?_cookie-check=msnD5ucXTsuOiK4j
5.) Find a family or roommate who DOES NOT speak your same native language: One mistake we can make when moving to a new country is living by ourselves or with someone we know or who speaks our own language. An amazing way to meet Americans is to live with an American family during your studies. Living by yourself may seem appealing or easier, but you may already be feeling lonelier in a new country and having others to socialize with is very important. American Homestay is one organization that helps you find a safe, friendly American family to live with. https://www.homestaynetwork.com/
If you have more questions or want advice, just ask us!