When moving to a place you don’t know, anyone is a potential friend. You just need to find the right way to connect with them.
Social networks are quite useful but you sometimes have to know what you are looking for to join a group or follow a page. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t replace a real person, someone you can have a coffee with in the morning.
During our first year in France I managed to socialize with two ladies. I thought it would be more considering I share the same language as the majority around here and I’m quite sociable. How wrong was I! Those two friends were French and both moved at the end of the first year. Back to square zero, my mood was not at its highest to be honest. I was ready to move back to Brussels.
I remember very clearly the day my social life changed. It was on a Saturday night in October 2014. My husband, kids and I sat on the last train home from Paris to Chantilly all exhausted by a day in the city. We weren’t talking much, just dozing off and waiting to get home.
Suddenly I heard her, a young adult talking really loudly in Dutch. I looked at her, wondering where she was going and if she would get off the train in Chantilly. I started to stare at her in such a way that she looked back. Nothing creepy mind you. I had something in mind. I started talking to her in Dutch but it had been a while. My husband was wondering what I was doing. It’s not my style to approach strangers on the train. I quickly told him if she was getting off in Chantilly and lived in the area, she might teach Dutch to our kids. He then took the lead in the conversation as his Dutch is of native level, nothing compared to my rusty skills.
Turns out she was visiting her Dutch cousin in Chantilly who, by the way, was teaching English to kids. Talk about a coincidence! She called her and the cousin came to meet us at the station.
This was my very first contact with the expat community in Chantilly. This was the day my life changed, I made friends with several lovely ladies from all over the world.
That was the end of my somewhat lonely days in France.
Wherever you are, friends are awaiting you, you just need to find a way to connect with them, be it a traditional or unconventional one.