I thought I was brave enough when I chose to leave Brazil to live in Germany.
In fact, I was very brave. I got myself out of the comfort zone that everyone talks about, which is - as the name implies - very comfortable, realizing it can become a very tight place over time, especially when you know you need to grow and change some aspects of yourself in order to evolve.
The truth is I needed to be even braver when the moving actually happened.
Moving to a different, and at first, unknown country, where I don't speak the local language, wasn't the only thing forcing me out of the comfortable little zone I was in. Arriving in Berlin, I often found I had to drag myself out of my comfort zone in everyday situations: talking to a supermarket employee, solving bureaucracy, on the first day of class, and, of course, trying to make new friends.
I was forced out of my comfort zone to make friends, and that's great!
Had I stayed inside my comfort zone, I would still be without any idea of how to make new friends, I would have never met all the new incredible people I did, and I would probably be crying about the old friends I left in Brazil.
Making new friends, especially as an adult, and in another country, is a challenging (but not impossible) task. Socializing in another language, and finding people who relate to you, to your lifestyle, thoughts, and values is something that doesn't happen overnight and takes a lot of dedication.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Berlin was to find places I like.
I started going to the gym, studying at the university, and finding hobbies that put me in touch with other people. You can easily run into social opportunities in any of these places, and better yet: you have the chance to connect with people you have things in common with and increase your chances of starting a good friendship.
But you shouldn’t get stuck on only looking for people who you have a lot in common with.
Living in a different country showed me how many kinds of different people there can be, so another important thing I had to do was get it into my head that I needed to allow myself to experience different things with these new people. Accepting invitations that at first wouldn't sound so appealing to me, going to places I've never visited before, or doing some activity I had never done before. This openness is fundamental to show that you’re willing to discover and learn more about the interests of your potential new friends.
Friendship, like any other type of relationship, is built through affinities, concessions, and balance, so it’s essential that you show interest when creating a new friendship and put effort into making it last. Things won’t happen if you just stay at home waiting for someone to invite you to a party or for a coffee. You need to be willing to the same with whom you intend to create or maintain a friendship. It’s normal for us to expect an invitation or sign from others, but being willing to take the first step is very important - and even more working to maintain and cultivate these new friendships.
Making new friends in Berlin not only made me a happier person but also made me more empathetic, a better listener, and more respectful of other people's differences.
In a place as multicultural as the capital of Germany, one thing to keep in mind when making friends is: “open your mind, people will be completely different from you, and that's the magic of having new friends”. I even believe that making friends with people who are so different from me brought me even more knowledge, maturity, and experience than the moving experience in itself did.
Today I see the friends I made here as my second family. Away from family back home, friends will often be the support you need on a bad day and the ones you will want around to celebrate your new achievements.
So, long story short, my biggest recommendation to you, if you find yourself in a totally new place:
- start a new routine
- find places you like
- find things you like to do in these new places
- and, most of all, be open to everything that is new and to differences, in general.
You can really surprise yourself with all the good people, experiences, and changes you can encounter and go through when you open yourself to it.