Making connections in unlikely – and likely – places
I love making new friends. Even when I’ve been somewhere for a while and have an established group of good friends around, I’m always happy to meet more people. And when I’m new to a place and don’t have any, it becomes a top priority. In my early days in a new city, I measure my success by social encounters.
So here I found myself, on the other side of the world with nary a friend in sight. I did, however, have a few leads. And that’s my first rule: take any and every offer from people back home to hook you up with their acquaintances in your destination.
My first roommate in Hawaii, Blake, who became a great friend, had a college buddy working Down Under for a year. Blake made an e-mail intro before I left, and I e-mailed Josh when I arrived. Josh gave me advice on good areas to live, helpful Web sites for house hunting and introduced me to his group of mostly American friends, all fun people. Josh and I are now neighbors and hang out and run into each other in our little beach town. Additionally, through Josh I met Steve – he had been a friend of Josh’s sister in San Francisco and arrived here the same day I did for grad school – and Steve and I have become fast friends. We even quickly discovered we have friends in common back in the United States.
Another thing to do is dust off the rolodex (or do a Gmail search, as it were). From my semester here, there were two people I was desperately hoping to reconnect with: my Aussie roommate Mark and my internship boss, Marcus. Mark was easy to get in touch with – we were already Facebook friends – and though it took about three weeks to finally meet up, it was a fun reunion; and I’m looking forward to spending more time with him and hopefully a few of his friends who used to hang out in our dorm apartment four years ago.
Marcus, being a busy man in a large multimedia company, took a few exclamation-point-happy e-mails to resurface, but we met for coffee and it was wonderful. “You look just the same … but you’re a woman now,” he said when he saw me. I knew I loved him! After reminiscing about our days as boss and intern he has forwarded me a few job leads within his company and promised me free tickets to the major annual event I helped with when I was his intern.
Finally, finding friends from scratch. This can be trickier but very rewarding, knowing I can be in a foreign place of 4 million people and find a few with whom I connect and have fun. One day, while on Gumtree.com, Australia’s answer to Craig’s List, I took a break from the housing ads to look in the activities’ section, thinking there might be a sports team or exercise class I might consider joining.
Instead, I saw a posting from one “25-year-old girl, new to Sydney, looking for a running partner in Bondi Beach.” Thinking, “I’m 25, new to Sydney, and was hoping to get into a good running routine,” I e-mailed her.
The girl on the other end was Shannon from San Diego, here with her boyfriend and best friend on a working holiday visa for a few months to check out life Down Under. We met for a morning run and were happy to learn we were at the same level – both had run a marathon within the last year or so and had found it hard to get back into a consistent routine since the 26.2-mile torture. We took a nice pace along the coastal walk, doing as much getting-to-know-you-chatter as running.
From there I met her bf and bff, Bruce and Jen, and we’ve become exercise, beach, going out and, dare I say, Karaoke buddies. It was my first internet match up, and what a success! Maybe next I should try a dating site in search of a strapping bloke?
So, with these and more now counted as new “mates”, I’ve given myself high marks so far for starting my life in Sydney. I feel confident there are plenty people more to meet out there, and I look forward to seeing how we find each other and what we get into together.
Read Megan’s last blog, “House-Hunting Adventures in Australia.”
Read Megan’s full blog here.