This is a bit of a strange post to write as I could be tempting fate. I’m heading into week 6 of living in Australia, and it appears that the advice I got before leaving from everyone who had ever moved abroad has been the best yet.
Say yes to EVERYTHING.
And so I have. And because of this ‘yes is best’ attitude, I’ve met dozens of lovely people, seen more of my new city than I ever could’ve hoped for, and racked up a few new FB friends in the process. I jest with the latter point, but it’s no exaggeration that it’s the people in this quirky city that have exceeded all expectations of what my first month would turn out like.
It’s with these new friends that I’ve seen an Austrian human glitter ball dance around the stage to 80s classics. I’ve got absolutely smashed on free wine at a cellar door festival, and been introduced to cold, fizzy, red wine, which is probably the most delicious drink ever invented. I’ve sat in a paddling pool enjoying a beer with one friend in 38 degree heat, and I’ve danced until dawn at a gay club with another. I’ve watched my first AFL game, and seen the most beautiful sunset, getting a much longed for cuddle which I’ve missed being away from everyone at home. I’ve laughed to the point of tears watching stand up with another friend, and I’ve had a three hour long brunch date with a total stranger who I felt like I’d known for years. I’ve even performed a hand job on a carrot wedged between the thighs of one of these new friends, and played the piano between a woman’s legs with another pal. Saying yes has led me to all of these things. To all of these amazing people, who have scooped me up into their friendship circles and lives, and welcomed me with both arms spread wide.
When I was prepping for the big move I had a fair few deep and meaningful convos with my friends back in Scotland about how tricky it can be to make pals when you’re the new kid in town. The thought of starting again on the friend front is enough to bring anyone out in a neck rash. After all, unless you move city, or in my case, country, it’s likely you haven’t had to make a concerted to do it since leaving home/going to University. How do you go about it? Where do you meet folk? At what stage will I know if they actually like me? It’s often felt more complex than being on the hunt for love. I mean, unlike dating, there’s not a plethora of ‘find a friend’ sites – well, not many that wouldn’t end up in quick digression to sleazeville thanks to creeps sitting behind their computer for a cheap thrill. As I said, I’m a month in and I feel extremely lucky to have encountered so many interesting, welcoming, banterful, inspiring people in such a short space of time. It’s not been all down to luck that I’ve had such adventures…here’s some practical things I did to ‘put myself out there’ and attempt to make a life for myself down under:
- The quest for newfound friendship kicked off before I left the UK. In one way it was the last thing I was considering as part of the mahoosive to do list, and on the other it was all I could think about as without friends I’m half a person. So I hunted out anyone who had connections with the place I was moving to. One very kind soul connected me with her friends, friend on Facebook, which I appreciated hugely as it’s not the easiest thing to ask. “Errrr…my pal’s moving to Adelaide. Your pal lives there. Do you think she’d be her friend?” Haha. How could anyone resist such an offer?!
- I purposively picked an Air BnB pad that looked like it had hosts with really good craic. Sure, I could’ve gone back to the one I’d stayed at during my last trip to Adelaide, but she left me to my own devices, and where’s the opportunity for new friend making in that? Turns out I can sniff out a fun house from 10,000 miles away, and many of the experiences I’ve had have been with this gorgeous couple and their gang.
- I’ve said yes to everything, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Even things I’ve thought aren’t really my cup of tea that I’ve actually ended up really enjoying. I even make sure I say yes within situations, like when a random girl I met said ‘come and let me introduce me to my other group of friends’ at a street party, and I ended up hitting it off with them too.
- Taking the time to talk to strangers has always been my way. It’s in doing this that I’ve found out about gigs to go to, places to travel to, areas to visit, met people to help me with Uni work, learned how to sort life shit and in some instances, even made friends. There’s nothing like an accent (and tattoos) to help spark a conversation, and as a result I’ve had invitations to peoples homes, and had a great time getting to know more about my new home.
- Social media has also played a part in firmly putting the ‘social’ in front of circle. I’ve joined expat Facebook groups, used hashtags to find a new hairdresser/eyelash technician/tattooist, and explored the possibility of ‘Meetups’ as a way to meet folk. As if I needed another reason to be glued to my phone, but the scrolling sure has paid off so far.
One thing that’s not really worked is meeting people through leisurely pursuits. I’ve joined the gym, but what happens there is that people spend most of the time avoiding eye contact with each other. *Don’t look at me and judge that I’m not using the machine right/don’t sweat enough/so shouldn’t be wearing these leggings* I also attempted to hone in on a ‘hip hop in heels’ class but it got cancelled, which I took to mean that the fate gods were telling me to step away from the opportunity to look like a twat, attempting to impersonate Beyonce with chub.
I may project as a ‘people person’ and highly social, but I still get nervous as shit about whether people are going to even like me. I have major fears about three things when it comes to generating new friendships – being an inconvenience to people, exposing too much of myself and just saying something stupid/insulting. Most of the time I manage to avoid doing any of the aforementioned, but there have been times where I’ve overshared and regretted it since I’ve arrived. I guess the trick is not to give yourself a hard time. You can only ever be that version of yourself, so why hide who you truly are? I try and remember that the ones who are gonna love me for me in the end will stick around, so don’t waste time pausing on the self-doubt. There’s a reason I had to say goodbye to so many incredible people in the UK, so I just need to remember I’m a bloody good pal to have, and hope for the best in this bestie-hunting quest!