It should come as no surprise that the hardest part of being an expat is living far away from friends and family–even in the age of FaceTime, WhatsApp and email. You can invest a lot of time in keeping in touch with your stateside group, but eventually you will crave some real face time. And about three months into my new Swiss life, I hit my limit. I was incredibly lonely and desperate for girlfriends. I hadn’t used my friend-making muscles since freshman year of college and I was totally out of shape.
But, how does one go about making friends in a new country?
I made connections through my husband’s professional network and I launched a blog. The blog wasn’t meant to be a friend finder, but emails from lovely women all over Europe started flowing in… “Want to get coffee sometime?” “Need advice on Swiss visas?” “Can we be friends?” It was as if I had put out a personal ad saying “lonely expat seeks same.” Woohoo–real friends!
So, when I read this week that there is an app aimed at helping women make meaningful connections with other women I didn’t laugh at the concept. (High School Paige might have, but Expat Paige is in no position to turn down friends.)
The app–called Hey! VINA–uses your existing network of Facebook friends and a questionnaire to help you find potential friendships, exercise partners and career introductions. The questionnaire gauges your personality using questions such as “Who would be your TV sitcom best friend?” “Do you prefer meeting up for coffee or wine?” The app then sends an introduction to both women who have been matched, so neither has to make the first move.
Would you try it?
The app is only available in the U.S. for now, but stay tuned expats. A few friendly links:
- A fantastic TED Talk on what makes life meaningful (friends!)
- An eye-opening article on making friends in your 30s
- And, seven ways to make friends as an adult (#3 works!)