One of the scariest parts of packing up and moving across the world is the anxiety of meeting new people. I’d like to consider myself a fairly outgoing person, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about making friends when I chose to move to Thailand alone. What if my roommate didn’t like me? What if I just didn’t click with anybody? What if all of the locals in my town hated me? What if…the list could go on and on and I’m sure some of you have felt the same way. Here are a few ways to get in with the locals and make the most of your time abroad!
1. Find a few restaurants you like and go there again and again…and again.
The first few weeks of being in my town I tried out a bunch of different restaurants and eventually found myself frequenting just a few. Being one of the few foreigners in town, the restaurant owners started to notice my constant appearance in their restaurant and we began to form a bond. Now, they help me with my Thai (and think it’s incredibly funny to listen to me attempt to order in Thai) and I think I’ll miss them equally as much as I’ll miss my students when I leave.
2. Be Yourself.
I know, I know, this is so cliché. I really tried to come up with a less cheesy way to say this, but nothing came to mind. When you arrive in Chiang Mai or Hua Hin for your TESOL course, be yourself and I promise you will make friends. Everyone else arriving is going through the same thing you are and it’s easy to bond over that. The relationships I formed during this first month are some of the strongest friendships I have at the moment and I have no doubt they’ll be in my life far past my time in Thailand.
5. Get Involved at Your School.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned since being in Thailand is that you don’t have to speak the same language as someone to have a relationship with them. Most of the Thai teachers at my school speak little to no English, yet I consider them friends. I’ve been on trips with them, gone to a funeral with them, and they even share their curry with me at lunch (a true sign of love in Thailand, in my opinion).
3. Make Friends with Your Tour Guides.
In my personal opinion, a tour guide can really make or break an experience. I’ve been lucky to have some really great guides, and actually stay in touch with a couple of them. Casey, my tour guide from a hike in Malaysia, sends me emails every once in a while to see how I’m doing and has even offered to help me train for my first half marathon!
4. Be Open.
Be open to making friends with people you think you might not otherwise be friends with. Don’t close yourself off to making friends with someone because you don’t think you’d click with them. You never know what someone has to offer until you actually talk to them, and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the people you meet.
6. Live in the Moment.
I think this might be one of the most important tips I can give you. We all have friends, family, and people we are leaving behind in order to live in Thailand, but don’t dwell on that. You made the decision to move to Thailand, so embrace it. Of course, make time to stay in touch with and FaceTime the people that are important to you, but don’t let it consume you. The people who love you will always be there, but your time in Thailand will end eventually. Enjoy it while you’re here and you’ll have some great stories to tell them when you get back.
Don’t let the fear of making friends stop you from moving to Thailand to teach English. The hardest part will be pulling the trigger and making the move; after that everything will fall into place. Teaching English in Thailand is an experience that simply cannot be replicated and I promise you won’t regret it!
Are you worried about meeting new friends abroad? Or did you find it really easy and have other good suggestions? Comment below, as we would love to hear from you!
To find out more about Tarah and her adventures in Thailand, check out her blog www.travelwithtarah.com