My article about Finding your feet in Taipei was published today! I’d appreciate if you check it out if you are interested 🙂
It goes through rather comprehensively the various groups, events and opportunities which are on offer in Taipei to help you settle in and establish a support network.
I think feeling settled is without a doubt one of the most daunting tasks you’re faced with when you move to a new country. Of course you’re not going to feel at ease until you have a solid group of friends, and, if you’re business-oriented, a meaningful professional network.
However for some people, it can be incredibly intimidating to put themselves out there and start building a network. I can understand why some people slink away when they first move abroad, because it can be damn scary to start everything over from scratch.
No one knows who you are, and at first, no one cares because you’re just another stranger to them. Establishing something meaningful can take time, or if you’re lucky, you can sometimes just instantly connect with someone.
When I first arrived here starry eyed and friendless, I went all out with attending anything and everything. Not only did I want to meet new people, I wanted to keep my mind active and make the most of the opportunities I came across.
Each week I’d enter an event by myself, and I’d leave with the contacts of a couple of new soon-to-be friends, or even a couple of business cards.
Something that seems to work for me is that I tend to just treat people as if I’ve known them for ages. I just want to be my most genuine self, and to me, that means just treating everyone as a friend. There’s not a lot of subtely on this end, so I fear I’ve probably unwittingly scared a couple of people off!
Conversely, whilst most of the time I’m very outgoing, there are times- especially in more professional settings- that I feel anxious approaching people. I can be quite self-conscious and if people are intimidating I really do fear I’ll make a fool of myself. But I try to keep going and make it through without showing too much fear. In this way I’ve managed to make some connections with people I wouldn’t dream about getting!
My point is that it’s up to you to make the life you want to lead here. It may seem contrived to go out with the purpose of making friends, but it doesn’t even need to be that covert. Many of the events I attended I went to because I was genuinely interested in the topic, and the friends I made were just a fortunate byproduct.
Of course, I appreciate that those with a shy disposition face a more difficult it more challenge to meet people, but trust me, the initial leap is the hardest part.
I look at my friendship groups now and I can say a big proportion of the people in it I met as a result of this proactiveness to put myself out there.
I went to a German Chamber of Commerce event about intercultural communication and during the networking time (my first ever at that!) I met Nuria and Marisa from Spain, and Irene from Taiwan.
I joined a cycling Meetup, and on a rented Ubike cycling around the river I instantly connected with Connie from Chile.
I attended an Internations night and met so many lovely people and became particularly wonderful friends Pinhsi from Taiwan.
I joined the Belly Dancing Club at my university and met so many amazing girls like Mari, Tina, 玉玉 and Ya-han.
On Couchsurfing I met Carl from Taiwan to do Japanese-Mandarin-English language exchanges.
I also met Risako from Japan to do Japanese-English language exchanges.
I even attended a Toastmasters meeting and went to an International Student Night event.
These incredible people I met are now some of my best friends in the world. I can’t even think how my life would be without them, and I fear that if I hadn’t bothered to go to these things we would have never crossed paths.
I hope my article can help at least one person make a friend or two. That would be such a beautiful thing to be in the slightest way part of!