How to meet people in the UK
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Updated last year

If you are considering moving to the UK, or you just moved there, making new friends can feel like a daunting or nearly impossible task, especially for first-time expatriates. Several questions might be rushing through your mind like "How will I cope on my own in the UK?", "Will I meet people I can roll with?", "Will the British understand my spoken English and accent?", etc.

It is a fact that making friends abroad can be a very hard task, but there's really nothing to worry about. There are several options you can explore if you are new to the country. Many events and activities are taking place all year round, giving you a thousand opportunities to meet interesting people, even though an effort will be required from your side. One of the keys to meeting new people is to keep attending functions and events that will enable you to meet them. Even if your presence yields no early results, don't give up. Besides, keep in mind the cultural differences and English social norms.

Tips for growing your social circle in the UK

Language exchange groups

International language exchange groups are one of the best and easiest ways of meeting new people anywhere in the world. In general, you will feel less awkward if you are in such a group as you will be meeting people looking for the same thing as you, and this will make communication easier. International exchange groups are speciallly intended for those who want to meet new people and practice a new language.

You can find many of these groups in most cities. Have a look at the social media to find one around you. You can also explore websites like Meetup or contact the nearest British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/education/accreditation/centresor local council for more information.

Popular languages like French, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic, and Chinese have their official organisation in large cities in the UK. Some of these are the British Chinese society, Alliance Française, Cervantes, Goethe Institute, il Circolo, and the Arab British Centre.

These organisations regularly run programs and events in popular places where you can meet new people who speak your language. It can be an excellent option if you are looking for new friends who also understand or are interested in your culture.

Important:

Avoid restricting your group of friends to people who speak your language only; this may limit the practice of your English language skills.

Join a group or a society

Another viable option is to join a group or society that interests you. Whether you like sports, chess, debates, arts, or reading and discussing books, you will definitely find something that binds you to people in the long run. Joining and participating in this type of groups will definitely help grow and improve your skills.

University or college students can choose from a range of groups and societies. You can seek more information from the university's administrative office. If you recently joined a large organisation in the UK, the HR department can provide you with information on their social activities. Besides, bonding with your coworkers can make your expat life in the country even more interesting as you will be able to plan outings together or have a drink after work perhaps.

If you are a freelancer, networking events makes it easier to boost your service and meet new people, including clients.

Volunteering

If you have more free time, you may consider volunteering. This might help you meet like-minded people and connect better with your community. Volunteering has many benefits including helping people and contributing to the betterment of your new environment, meeting new people, building up experience for your CV, improving your English, etc.

To volunteer, try contacting local volunteer centres, charities or applying via volunteering website. Below are some examples:
Do-it
Shelter
Oxfam
RSPCA

Be open to invitations

To meet new people and make new friends, you may need to go out of your comfort zone and accept invitations even when you are demotivated or tired with over socialising. However, it is best to stay open to new adventures, like touring the city or planning a weekend getaway, as long as it remains reasonable.

With a single person, many may eventually join in. Even if you have not yet met your type of people, accept the invitations to gatherings as this will improve your chances of meeting the right person.

Whatever keeps you away from home and busy will definitely make you happier and help you adjust to your new environment so that you won't even get homesick.

Useful links:

British Council
Meetup.com
National Council for voluntary organisation
Find local council
Timeout

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