Not only do those of us living in D.C. face the typical challenges of making friends (lack of time, energy, etc.), we live in particularly transient city. Just when we think we have formed a solid friend group, our pals move elsewhere and we have to once again put ourselves on the friend market.
Having moved from D.C. to Paris six months ago, I, too, am in the process of finding “my people.” Although I by no means have as many friends in Paris as I did while living in D.C., here are some strategies that have worked for me so far:
- Join (or create) a professional org such as WWPR
Well, you can pat yourself on the back because you’ve already joined a network of potential friends. In addition to attending WWPR events, joining a committee to help run the organization can serve as a way to befriend members. Since WWPR unfortunately does not exist in Paris, I launched a Lean In Circle here, which is a professional group. The circle has been a stimulating way to get to know femmes in Paris (and discover new cafes!).
2. Be open to friends of all ages
Although age mattered in childhood (think: the days of proclaiming, “I am x years and x quarters”), it does not need to in adulthood. Despite being five years my junior, the intern at my office (pictured above) has become one of my closest friends here. I have also befriended my 83-year-old neighbor who frequently invites me to her apartment for dinner and informs me of the must-see exhibits in Paris.
3. Connect with alumni of your college or university
No matter where you went to university, chances are there are alumni in your neck of the woods! Although I went to a college of only 2,000 students in New England, there are over 30 alums in Paris. Translation: over 30 potential friends! Above is a photo of some of us gathered at a cafe called Un Dimanche à Paris in central Paris.
4. Be Brave
I heard a door creak outside my apartment one morning before work. Even though I was not quite ready to leave, I threw on my coat and shoes and introduced myself to a neighbor my age who was leaving her apartment for the day. We made conversation walking to the metro. When I returned home that evening, I found a note on my door from her saying it had been lovely to chat with her number in case I ever wanted to grab a drink.
5. Join a fun common interest group
Wanting to embrace my artistic side, I have joined a group of creative writers in Paris. We get together about once a month for writing sessions and to socialize. Here’s a photo of us gathered at a friend’s apartment for Sunday brunch. In addition to the writing group, I recently tried out a running group for expats and Parisians.
6. Stay in touch with old friends!
Since making close friends in our current place of residence can take time, it is important to stay in touch with old friends. A short Facetime session or call with an old friend can offset the temporary feeling of loneliness when we’re still trying to find our people. Also, let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like catching up with a childhood friend.