I spent a whole month so far in a country halfway across the world from me, where I know NOBODY except my partner, who works 9-6 as a stop motion animator.
So… I found myself gently placed outside my comfort zone of Singapore, a country where you’ll probably meet at least one person you know when you step outside the house (haha)
It can be scary at first, being in a country like US that isn’t as safe as Singapore. Then again, nowhere is really as safe as Singapore. But… choosing to go out of my comfort zone and make friends certainly has its rewards…!
Today I met Stacey, a seriously badass entrepreneur who co-founded Milk+T 8 years ago, and built it from just a food truck to the brand that it is today
Just a week ago, I met two badass women who immigrated to US at a young age and lived in challenging cities like LA and worked in competitive industries like entertainment and media.
Just 2 days ago, I took a nature walk with someone who used to work in refugee camps and saw a completely different living condition and challenges that came with it.
Am seriously so in awe of the cool people I get to meet and the golden nuggets of wisdom and insight I gain through their journey.
5 things that helped me make new friends in a completely new country was:
1. Start your engine and test things out
What I did was to walk into random shops in town and initiate causal interactions with the staff in the store. It’s low risk because you’ll never have to see them again, but you get to practice speaking to someone in that new environment. You can do this in your new environment too, at common spaces like the water cooler.
2. Be comfortable being alone
It kinda seems contradictory, but being comfortable with your own company helps you both:
- Emotionally, to not have any disappointments with unrealistic expectations and pressure to make friends fast
- Gives you a more chill and radiant presence
3. Find a “latch”
Find ways to “latch” on something or someone else. To “latch” is like to depend on / anchor on, for example, searching for one person in your current network that may know someone in that new environment, and ask for them to make an introduction.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help / be honest that you’re new
As it turns out, when you really hit it off with someone and you let that person know you’re new, they tend to wanna help you!
5. Get tips from friends who know the culture and then follow your gut
In my case it was to get tips about how to be safe here, and any cultural nuances I may not know about (I.e. it’s considered rude to raise your hand and call a waiter here, I know, strange right???)
And then follow your gut. When you build a consistent and strong relationship with your emotions and your body, you tend to know when something/someone feels “off”
What do YOU do to authentically connect in an unfamiliar environment?