Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Making New Friends in New Places

At the request of Courtney, I am going to do a post on how to make friends in a new place.

I am an expert at moving.  Since Bech and I got married, we have lived in Oxford, MS, Lilongwe, Malawi, Jackson, MS, Burlington, VT, Baton Rouge, LA, and State College, PA.

Does that make you tired to think about?  Because it makes me tired.

Am I an expert at making new friends?  Not really.  But I have had to do it a lot, so I do know what helps.

So here are my tips on making new friends in new places:

Malawi friends

O     N     E

Get plugged into one or two different communities immediately!

For us, this is always a church home.  We immediately start going to church, the first Sunday we are there.  And we don't skip out.  Also, we aren't much of church hoppers.  We find the local PCA church, we start going, and we start plugging in.

Our church friends, without exception, are some of our closest friends wherever we live.  Sometimes, we even try to connect with church members before we move there.

I think it is really easy to move somewhere new and take your time finding a church.  I totally understand why.  It is hard.  Going to a new place with new people is really hard.  But, I promise, that you will be so thankful if you will just immediately plug in!  Ask about small groups.  Find out about Bible studies.  Go to church events even if it's outside of your comfort zone.

Other communities to get plugged in to:  graduate student communities (go to and organize events with your cohort), Mom playgroups (or a local MOPS group), volunteer organizations (my sister transferred to the DC junior league and is making friends there).  Just find a community and become invested!

Burlington friends

T     W     O

Stick around for the weekends.

Of all of the places we have lived, I felt the least connection to Baton Rouge.  And I can tell you why...we were 2 hours away from family.  We went home all of the time.  I would not change that.  I was so glad to have a year near our families!  But, hands down, that was the main reason why we didn't have as many friends there--we were always gone!

When do people usually get together with friends?  The weekends.  When do you meet new friends at church?  The weekends.  If you are traveling every other weekend, you aren't going to be a consistent part of any friend group.

Baton Rouge friends

T     H     R     E     E

Do the inviting!

This one is hard, and it's one that I wasn't great at in the beginning.  

I think it is really easy to get to a new place and expect every one else to recognize that you are new, need friends and do the inviting.  I did this when I transferred to Ole Miss.  I remember just waiting and hoping that old friends I had, who were Ole Miss students, would ask me to do something.  I remember being a part of a Bible study and hoping those girls would ask me to do something.  And I was really lonely.

My second year there, I stopped waiting for people to ask me to do something, and I asked new friends to hang out with me!  And it was wonderful.  I ended up making so many new friends in so many different places.

Look, in an ideal world, established people would see new people come in and they would invite them over.  But we don't live in an ideal world.  And when I am the "old person," I don't always think to invite the new people into my group.  Some people have never been the "new person."  They have always lived with the same people, had the same friends, and never moved.  They honestly just don't think.

So you have to just step outside of your comfort zone and invite people to do things with you!  Yes, this can be tough.  I have invited people to do things with us and had them NEVER respond (darn you, facebook, for telling me that they did see my message!).  And that makes you feel like a complete loser.  But I have also taken a chance, invited people over, and ended up being great friends with them.

State College friends

F     O     U     R

Unpack quickly.

We have moved almost once a year.  Do not complain to me about how hard it is to unpack boxes.  I know.  But the best thing you can do is unpack those boxes quickly and get settled in.  I'm talking pictures hung, kitchen, organized, window treatments made.  

Because the sooner you feel comfortable and "moved into" your new space, the sooner you will start feeling at home and inviting friends over.  We have tried to do this almost every place we have lived.  It helps so much

State College friends
Also, can we once again note what wimps Bech and I are in our scarves and jackets!

So there you go, my tips on making friends.  I hope this helps any friends and readers who are moving to a new place...I know how hard moving is!  I just keep telling myself that this is God's way of teaching me that I am a citizen of heaven, and not of earth!

1 comment:

The Robbins & Co said...

so funny, i was just giving tips to a friend who is moving to TN with her 5 kids-they've barely ever moved away. these are great tips!!!! i would add-get to know the college kids and the lonely grandparents-they will become your family!!!!