Building a social life

Making friends can be a big concern for people moving abroad. After settling into your new home and starting your job or course, you may want to meet people and expand your social circle. When trying to make friends, remember that when you decided to move you also opened yourself up to new experiences. There might be some who are not ready to talk to you, but as long as you are open minded and willing to try, everything will fall into place. In this section, we offer some suggestions to help you on your way.

1. Learn the language

One of the best things about becoming an expat and relocating abroad is that you get an opportunity to learn a new language. Learning Dutch or improving your English is a great way to meet people and make friends. While English can help you get along with other internationals, learning Dutch will allow you to really integrate. Local people will appreciate the effort you are making to speak their language. It will definitely make you feel more at home and is essential if you want to become part of the culture. It makes it so much easier to socialise, make friends and engage in activities such as visiting the theatre or cinema. By speaking the language, you can better understand Dutch habits and it certainly makes life easier when looking for employment. Whether it is enrolling in a language course, using apps or visiting relevant websites, there are plenty of free and paid opportunities to learn Dutch. Why not discover what’s available?

2. Attend events and meetups

Events are also a great way of meeting people. There are always lots of events and expat meetups taking place in Utrecht Region. Keep an eye out for them and attend on your own. You will find many people doing the same and it is easy to strike up conversations. The International Welcome Centre organises various events. Be sure to check them out. There are also plenty of (international) meetup groups online that offer a wide selection of activities. You will be surprised how many people would love to go out for a drink, a movie or a walk. You can find below an overview of Utrecht Region’s different international (meetup) groups.

3. Join a sports team or take a workshop

Do you like playing tennis or football? Or how about taking part in theatre or dance? Participating in activities that you would do in your own country can make you feel much more at home. It is also the perfect way to build friendships. And you will also meet a lot of Dutch people. The Dutch like their sports and find it important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some sports even have special moments for socialising, called ‘the third half’, in which you share a drink with your teammates.

4. Talk to your neighbours

One way to start your social life in a new country is to meet your neighbours. Why not introduce yourself by knocking on the door of your direct neighbours and invite them for a coffee? Sometimes the coffee may wait for months (or it might never happen), but it can also result in a spontaneous get together.

International groups and communities