Feeling isolated and unable to meet others is one of the most difficult things about being an expat (or even being human!).
Over 10 years ago my best girlfriend moved from Washington DC to Portland OR. She did not know anyone in the area, did not have a job and was pregnant shortly after moving there. My understanding of Portland is that given all the influx of people into the area, “locals” were not (and still are not) welcoming of newcomers — all in all, pretty isolating. As you can imagine, rainy Portland became a state of mind until she finally connected with friends.
Today she is considered more of a local and is an avid cyclist. I wondered today as I came across this fantastic cycling site Ride Oregon if it had been around back then, if Portland wouldn’t have been such a soul dampening experience early on. The Ride Oregon site is one of the best examples of an easy to use website to involve you in cycling whether you are a local, an expat or a visitor. (Check it out!)
As a rabid knitter, my girlfriend also introduced me to Ravelry, a knitting and crocheting community where you can get free patterns, join stitching groups and/or opportunity to learn this craft. There are many similar sites out there around crafts, hobbies and entertainment — just type your interest into Google and off you go!
If you are a passionate reader like I am, you can get lost in a book and avoid personal contact altogether. If you want to reconnect, join a local bookclub. Ask your local library, book store or search Google or Facebook for someone who’s started a group. Better yet, start one yourself!
Maybe you’re a sports person. There are neighbourhood sporting organisations for nearly every kind of sport. Here in Oz, we have netball, rugby, cricket, and football of many varieties (just to name a few!). In the US nearly every local community has softball, basketball and volleyball. Whatever your sporting interest is, there is probably a competition or fun group set up. Or perhaps you’d prefer to inspire others and become a coach. Get out, get active and meet others!
Finally, don’t forget your local charities, schools, churches and community organisations are always looking for volunteers. A great one in Sydney is bushcare (for those outside Australia, this is cleaning up local parks, picking up rubbish, planting or removing plants and repairing damaged paths or equipment). Sometimes these organisations are disorganised, so be patient and persistent.
There are many great opportunities out there to connect with others if you simply follow your interests. Even though you may be new to your new home, you do not need to feel isolated or alone.