Making Friends as a Foreigner in Spain

A bit of backstory:

I left Spain in the spring of 2016 with one main regret, namely, that I had not made more Spanish friends during my time in the country.  Although I had spent almost a year living in Navalcarnero (just outside of Madrid), nearly all of the friends I had made during my time were either from the United States or from the United Kingdom.  The same thing happened to me in China- even having spent three years there, my closest friends were all native English speakers.  While completely understandable since people who are similar have a tendency to congregate together, it is kind of funny to think a person travels thousands of miles away only to hang out with folks who are more or less the same. I need to dig deeper into my life abroad and send out a few new roots beyond my very close circle of expatriate friends.

She’s giving me the side-eye since I am one of those people.

When the bf and I were planning our move to Spain in the spring, we both agreed that making local friends would be a priority for us.  While neither of us planned to stay very long in China, we both want Spain to be home for the foreseeable future.  Getting involved in our local community, making new friends, and really investing ourselves in this place is something we agreed would make our move not only more meaningful, but also much more successful.

Try and try again.

Nevertheless, much like my previous experiences, I am finding it difficult to put myself out there.  I want to meet local people, develop friendships, form a tribe here, yet, I feel so odd because of my origin that I end up closing myself off from folks I meet.  Recently, to help fight against my home-body tendencies, we have started going to Meet Ups in the city; thus far we have taken a French class in Retiro Park and visited an art museum with some other gay folks.  Both were fun experiences, but I think for us to really make friends from these events, we will need to make it a regular thing.  In addition, I have been attending the local church here in town, but I think for that to really open any doors for me, I need to get involved somehow.  We will keep looking, trying, and getting out there because, in order to make friends, you have to get outside of yourself.

A glass of sangria is always a friendly gesture.

But it’s worth it. (Really!)

It may seem daunting, but developing adult friendships is worth it.  We often forget how much light and love meaningful friendships can bring to our lives; folks need companionship for the journey of life.  As a social person, I realize that by involving myself in community and forging new bonds with other like-minded individuals I will be better equipped to process and grow from this new life experience.

The same goes for you- getting back out there, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others, opening yourself up to new situations and experiences, all of these are ways we can begin to build lasting friendships.  Whether you are like me and have just moved countries or you just switched to a different job across town, the process of making friends where you are is difficult- but finding your tribe is worth it.

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