Moving somewhere where you don’t know anyone can be terrifying. But you have to get out there and find friends. You have to. I was lucky in moving to this massive Oil Capital of Europe in that there are tons of other expat women all in the same boat. And even if you’re not in city so well known for expat life, the odds are there are groups of other expats that are in the same situation as you to befriend. I found and joined the American Woman’s Association of Aberdeen– the AWA. Which isn’t just exclusive to Americans. They welcome everyone, expats from everywhere and even born Scottish ladies.
The AWA here is really a great resource even before you move. You can reach out and ask questions about what you’ll need in Aberdeen and what to expect. And once you’re here they are handy with directions, ideas of things to do, travel tips, where you can find twizzlers, etc. The AWA here has a facebook page where you can ask these questions as well as a page called the “swap shop” where you can post items that you’re selling and buy other people’s items. There’s always been such a flow of people coming in and out that this page constantly has new items: lamps, hand mixers, UK cell phones, even cars. And with the oil market in the North Sea sinking as it is…the page is especially busy with people returning state side.
Within the AWA, there are many different groups. This chapter has a afternoon book club, an evening book club, lunch bunch, explorers (hikers), stitchin’ chicks, happy hour, culinary caravan, golf, Bunco, chick flicks, mah-jongg, moms & tots, etc. All kinds of things to get involved to meet people and keep you busy! Personally, I do golf lessons with the AWA (gives you an AMAZING discounted rate), evening book club, and would like to do lunch bunch but it hasn’t worked out yet. I’m also on the list for explorers but weather and being scared of the 10-mile hikes has kept me inactive. But it’s great because I’m still on the email lists and can attend whenever I want.
Now you don’t only have to rely on expat groups…or specifically American expat groups. I didn’t move across the world to hang out with a bunch of Americans all the time. (Although to be honest, it seems I hang out with more Canadians than Americans at AWA…and I love me some Canadians.) I really would encourage you to reach out and join groups that aren’t expat exclusive. Currently, I’m on my 2nd term of sewing classes where I’m the only American. I also have a running group where most times I’m the only American. I think I’ve finally found my charity of choice and I really hope in the next month or so to get more involved with them and meet some people. And once I’m past marathon training, I plan to take up horseback riding and pursuing a spin instructor certificate.
I personally am not someone who needs to have plans every day. I’m pretty busy with all I do on a routine basis, let alone meeting up for social events. And I kind of dislike being overly busy and being “on” for days on end. It exhausts me. Which is strange and it took my awhile to figure out. I’ve found that to best sum me up, I have an outgoing personality but am actually shy and more so, introverted. See article here. Seriously though…every point except for #3, because I loved dances and proms- but I also did not take them seriously like most teenage girls. I just like getting down.
Anyway, you can’t really be an introvert when you move to a new country. You need to give yourself things to do. Especially if you’re not working…especially if you don’t have kids to hover around. You have to get out and meet people. Find some purpose and direction. If I’m invited to something, unless I have something really pressing scheduled, I say yes. I embrace the yes. Just now, I’m about to meet a new girl who just moved here for tea. Lunches, dinners, birthday parties, whatever…just say yes to meet with people. Otherwise it’s going to be a very lonely assignment. And while you’re forming all kinds of new and strange relationships, you might actually meet a couple people that will become your best friends and that you’ll hold on to closely for life.
My husband’s aunt (I guess now my aunt?) moved lots for her husbands job. While she had kids to tend to and wasn’t moving abroad, she told me her goal was to learn one new thing in every new town. She took cooking classes, quilting, scrapbooking, language… just to try something new. I think that’s a great idea. Though because I have more free time, I’m trying to learn and/or accomplish a handful of things at every location. Right now my things are running a marathon and learning to sew. In the next couple months I hope to transition to mastering spinning, getting back to horseback riding, and stepping up the volunteer game. This all also coincides with me ‘finding myself’ and what makes me happiest. Ideally, so that when I do return to the states I have at least a foot on the ground…maybe even two.
So these are all kinds of my findings from a late 20’s expat in Aberdeen, Scotland without kids. I’m sure having kids really opens you up to a lot of other moms and activities and makes it easier to find new friends that have something in common. But most likely your child is at an International School so you’re surrounded by fellow expats. So I’d say definitely get out of your comfort zone- meet some people, surround yourself with the Scottish. Or the nationality of wherever you’re living of course. But the Scots are really great people so I encourage you to find some to fill your life regardless of where you live. 🙂
Also, if moving abroad, you can find a lot of great resources on these boards: