Being an expat and moving to exotic locations around the globe can be exciting… yet, often terrifying and sometimes lonely. Advice on how to make friends in new places abounds on expat forums, and I’ve even pontificated myself on blogs and in my book on how to get settled in Dubai. The truth is, no matter where you’re moving to, the advice on settling in can be repurposed with simply swapping out the city and country name.
In the book Expat Women Confessions: 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions About Living Abroad they offer some sage advice on finding local groups and networks that you might like to join. “If you don’t find a group, network or association that interests you, do not be afraid to set one up yourself,” say the authors, Andrea Martin and Victoria Hepworth.
When I moved to Dubai, I did find a few groups of business and expat women that I had common interests with and got quickly involved but I also felt the need to create my own tribes where I could establish the parameters and invite the members myself. There are two areas I am very passionate about and no matter where I am, try to find like-minded people to connect with… writing and community service. In Dubai, I set up the volunteer chapter of Room to Read and then also set up a writers group (Flamingo Authors). Both brought great joy and satisfaction and the other writers who joined the author group have become fantastic critique partners. Our Facebook page has been a great way to keep up on each other’s progress. I recently had the immense pleasure of helping one group member get her first book published. The first time she had talked about her desire to write a book was at one of our meetings...