Today’s post includes answers to a few questions I was asked by the owner and founder of Jambo, a brand new app designed to help expats and work travellers make friends when they arrive in new places. The app is still in it’s design phase, but should be launching very soon!
What’s it like moving to a new city?
Moving to a new City is exciting and nerve-wracking at the best of times, but moving to a new Country is a real adventure! I feel lucky that we moved to a part of America that is really very similar to the UK – I guess that’s why they call it New England! Of course there are cultural differences, but I feel I’ve been eased into expat life by moving to a small town in Connecticut, just outside of NYC.
What’s it like settling into a new way of living?
It can be a challenge because there are many new things to learn. There are the obvious things like driving on the other side of the road, different foods and drinks and that people use different words or accents for things (or language if you move somewhere more exotic). One mistake I’ll never make again is to ask for an egg salad. In America, egg salad is egg mayonnaise or chopped up egg mixed with mayo and maybe some spring onions (which, incidentally, are called scallions here). I was expecting a green salad with egg on top. I left the deli with 2lbs of egg mayo. I don’t even like egg mayo…
There are less obvious things too. For example, I live in an apartment block that is dog friendly. Pretty much everyone in the block has a dog. They are everywhere. If you don’t like dogs, Connecticut is not the State to live in!
What about the ease/difficulty of meeting new people?
One of the hardest things about moving to a new country is leaving behind your friends and family. Everything else you can adjust to, but not having people who know you and understand you within visiting distance is definitely the toughest part. Skype and FaceTime can only offer so much in terms of contact.
Meeting new people is tough as an adult. I think it’s different if you have children because there are so many groups and clubs for the kids to join, so parents can meet other families too. As a single person, or a couple, there are much fewer options.
MeetUp is one way of meeting others but these are usually big groups of people and the thought of meeting so many strangers at once can be intimidating. It would be great to be able to meet in smaller groups or just one-on-one for a coffee and a natter. Of course there are the safety issues involved in meeting one on one; you never know who you’re meeting, but dating sites seem to manage it so why can’t we have one where friends meet too?!
How do you combat the isolation of being without friends in a new city?
For me it’s been challenging but mostly I’ve managed to occupy myself. I work for myself from home so in many ways I’m used to isolation, but it still gets to me at times!
I tend to set myself a routine. My husband leaves early so most mornings I go to the gym fairly early for 40 minutes or so. Then I have breakfast and catch up on the news of the day. Next I take myself out and about. Some days I walk into town and sit in one of the local coffee shops. I write, so this often takes up an hour or two. Sometimes I sit in the sun and read a book. After while of going to places, people begin to recognise you and are more likely to strike up a conversation. I’m also looking for local groups / clubs I can join with interests I like.
Luckily, I can start work soon too. We moved to CT for my husband’s work and because of his visa status, I have a visa that allows me to work. I’m currently waiting for a work permit, but once it arrives I am free to work.
Moving to a new city is an awesome adventure but it comes with its challenges. Even still, I would recommend it to anyone – life is too short not to grab adventure when it comes to find you!