Making friends when moving to Spain

Authored by:
Jennifer S.

Jennifer S.

As your arrival date gets closer and closer, the nerves and stress start to settle in about whether or not you’ll make friends. I felt the same way because I didn’t know what to expect. Yet, after being here for a month I can reassure you that it was so much easier than I thought it would be. So, if you’re feeling nervous about meeting new people or you may be arriving late due to circumstances, here are 7 tips to make friends:

  1. Meet people at the airport gate

What I found really helpful for me was messaging our groupme chat to see who has the same flight as me. We met at the gate prior to boarding. There were about 8 of us and it wasn’t awkward at all! We were all excited and nervous, but you could tell we genuinely wanted to get to know one another and get to Spain. It’s scary moving to a new country on your own, but knowing you’re not alone makes it so much easier. 

  1. Go to Orientation!!

Even if you decide to not stay in the hotel during orientation week, I would still recommend going to meet your group and leaders. I got along really well with my group. In fact, I’m still close with a few members and I still talk to my orientation leader. Plus, you’ll have plenty of free time in your schedule before or after your daily activities and you’ll want to explore Madrid with new people! Also, be sure to attend the optional events to have more quality time with your group and/or hotel roommate, etc.

  1. Use Messaging Apps

You will have multiple chats through Groupme and Whatsapp for your program. These are great for finding out more information on linking up with new people and new experiences. There’s also a few Facebook groups that are very informative and you can also reach out to people that way. It is also a good way to look for housing if you’re looking to room with people outside of CIEE or native Spanish speakers. Some people also use Bumble to find friends. If you’re looking to meet more people from Madrid, I highly suggest going to intercambio events hosted by Meetup. They are great for practicing your Spanish and have all different kinds of activities such as hiking, karaoke, horse-back riding, etc. You can bring your friends and make new ones! 

  1. Put yourself out there

I know it can be difficult to put yourself out there. To me, it felt much easier making friends here than at school. I felt this instant comfort when I got here and the people I was surrounded by. It’s really as easy as finding that one topic that connects you to the other person. You can also observe what people are wearing to learn a little bit about them and see if you can find a connection that way. Compliments are a great way to start a conversation too! 

  1. Always say “Yes” & Follow the leader

Try your best to put yourself out of your comfort zone at least for the first week. I think the first two weeks are vital for making new friends. There is no time limit to meeting people, but if you’re looking to make friends quickly the first month is the time to do it. Find the ones that have the idea of going to a museum, rooftop bar, etc. and go along! I simply followed the crowd, met great people, and had a great time! I didn’t have a preference, but wanted to get closer to the people I was talking to and have fun. Plus, as a type B personality it’s very easy to come across a Type A person or the “leader” of a group that comes up with the ideas. You could be the one to come up with the ideas or organize the group, which is also great! People flock to you, so you do a little bit more of the work, but people like that, haha. 

  1. Combine friend groups

The easiest way to make more friends is to combine friend groups! Have a picnic in Retiro, go to an amusement park, or plan a day trip. The possibilities are endless, but the more connections the merrier! It’ll be good to have people you can hang out with outside of your roommates & on your days off. 

  1. Take a deep breathe

Last, but not least, take a deep breath. We’re all in this together and you’re bound to find the people that are meant for you. I found the people that make me feel appreciated and celebrated, but I’m still excited to meet the friends that I haven’t met yet this year. Get ready for an adventurous year! You’ll find your people just like I found mine :)

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