Being away from home has its upsides and downsides. Whilst, it may be a great way to expand your personal and professional horizon, the idea of making friends in a strange land could be a daunting task, especially if you know nobody or just a few persons.
With Canada being home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the thought of making new friends may be exciting, especially because the country provides the platform for you to meet people from cultures which, ordinarily, you’d have to travel halfway across the globe to experience.
Exciting, it is; however, it can also be challenging, especially for people who do not naturally possess the ability to walk right up to someone, strike a conversation, win and sustain their interest. We understand how important it is for you to make new friends, especially in a multicultural country like Canada, and that is why we want to aid you in this article.
Here are eight easy steps to make friends in Canada, even as an introvert:
1. Step outside your house
and the introvert groans.
It’s a no-brainer: to meet new people, you have to go to where people are. Sitting on your couch watching Netflix all by yourself won’t allow you to make friends, except, of course, your favourite characters in the movie will have to substitute for real-life friends. There are tons of places to make new friends: professional conferences, religious gatherings, networking events, volunteering projects etc. Every week, pick one event and attend.
Professional conferences and events allow you to interact with those in your industry. With this, you can access job offers, know about the latest trends and advancements, discuss ideas for potential projects, make yourself known, etc. Who knows, you may even make personal friends from there.
The possibilities as to what kind of people you’ll meet in events and gatherings are limitless. Use be opportunities.
2. Use social media.
With the advent of social media, you can communicate with someone living miles away from you. Use professional sites like LinkedIn to connect and collaborate with industry leaders and colleagues, get updated on the latest trends in your industry, have access to opportunities etc. Apart from the professional benefits, social media allows you to meet interesting people who share interests with you. The importance of social media cannot be overemphasised.
3. Connect with your neighbours.
Be involved in volunteering projects in your neighbourhood. Don’t shy away from activities that will make you meet people. You may even join groups on social media that pertain to your neighbourhood, community or city. Be active in events that bring you together in Canada.
4. Join a shared-interests group.
There’s a myriad of options: you could join a book club, sign up for dance classes, register with the gym or fitness classes, go for sip-and-paint events, go hiking with others etc.
Find things that take you away from your lone zone and connect with people with similar passions and interests. However, don’t be carried away by your passion that you forget to interact sociably with other individuals.
While discussing the plot twist, making a touchdown, or singing alto, endeavour to mingle with the other people in your group, club, society or choir and get to know them personally.
5. Visit parks and recreational centres.
Usually, people come to these places to relax and would not mind connecting with people. You can strike a conversation with someone or at least create the opportunity for someone to talk with you.
Either way, don’t just enjoy the weather and the atmosphere; talk with people too. Some good ways to start a conversation could be to talk about the weather, appreciate the aesthetics of the place, comment on how relaxing, fun and interesting the place is etc.
Be sure to be polite, introduce yourself as a foreigner and remain friendly. You may also indicate that you would like to visit other fun and interesting places in the city and you would like some company. Also, be cautious and security-conscious so as not to fall prey to the wrong people.
6. Talk with your work colleagues.
You can ask for contributions, ideas, comments, or criticisms at work on a project or task you’re working on. Don’t be a lone ranger. Ask for different perspectives. Seek your colleagues’ opinions.
After work, make small talk with them, or you may decide to all go out and have some fun. Socialise with them. Be interested in knowing them personally. Since it may not be possible to get to know your colleagues personally within the 9-to-5 environment, going out with them is a great way to initiate and sustain conversations that allow you to learn more about them.
7. Get a pet.
“What does getting a pet have to do with making new friends in Canada?” you may ask. We’ll explain. Getting a pet eases the loneliness you may feel during your first few weeks of arrival in Canada, especially if you do not know anyone yet. However, in addition to that, when you take your pet to the pet clubs, you have the opportunity to socialise with people and make new friends. Some good icebreakers could be:
“Hello, I’m (insert name here), your dog looks so healthy. What do you feed (insert dog’s gender here)?”
“What a lovely dog you have here. Is there any specific routine you use to groom your dog?’
“What a well-trained cat. How did you train her so well?”
Generally, it is advisable to complement the individual, then ask questions that allow them to express themselves. If the person is comfortable with your questions, you may probe further(simultaneously respecting the person’s privacy).
8. Join a student group.
As an international student, you may join the debate club, music club, football club, chess club, dance club, drama club, swimming team etc. You may take language classes or learn a new skill. It is advisable to join teams so you can interact with others. You can make really good friends there.
As a rule of thumb, introduce yourself nicely, be polite, respect people’s privacy and be friendly. Partake in events that enable you to interact with others. Wear a big but confident smile on your face. There’s no rule set in stone for these things, but making friends in Canada is doable. And you can do it, even as an introvert.