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On Tuesday we dove into the article we published a year ago about making Spanish friends in Spain (you can see the original post here and the Tuesday post here) and today we want to get a bit further into how you can not only adapt to the differences but thrive with them.
Obviously, thriving means something different for everyone—some people look to make one good friend whereas others believe that it means they should have a whole group. However, the situation is also what you make of it! Oftentimes we get caught up in worrying about how other people are thriving that we forget about how we want to do it. In the end, there are people who meet someone interesting in grocery lines and become friends for life and there are others who wait around to be asked to do something. Neither option is inherently right or wrong—it is only right or wrong for you.Therefore, today our recommendation is to take everything we suggest and give it a little twist to make it into a plan or idea that interests and works for you.
Follow through on your plans: Think about what you are looking for
One thing is for sure—you probably don’t want to come across as a flake when trying to meet new people. Therefore, whether you are meeting for a coffee or planning a trip with some new acquaintances, think carefully before you commit and try not to change your plans or your mind at the last minute (although some things do come up and you cannot always control them). By coming across as a reliable person, both for serious things and for going out partying, you are setting yourself up for future success in the sense that someone who actually shows up is more likely to be invited again.
In addition, think about what you are looking for with your (potential) new friend. Do you want someone to go out and try all the tapas with you or are you looking for someone who is interested in traveling? Are you looking for a party friend or a park friend? While we highly encourage that you be open to the experiences that come your way, we suggest you accept suggestions and opportunities around what you are looking for in a friendship. It will also be easier to follow through with plans if they are actually something you are interested in.
Invite people to do things too: Set yourself up for personal happiness
Organizing events can be stressful and frustrating (especially if you don’t know if or when people will show up, like may be the case when you are just getting to know how Spaniards make plans). However, by picking a theme yourself, you can make sure it is something you are truly interested in. Anything from going out and partying—yes we know it is a big thing for people living abroad in Spain for a short time—to meeting up to play board games can be a fun way to meet new people and develop friendships. It may make you feel vulnerable, but sometimes this is a good addition to friendships (see our article about it here).
And while it doesn’t always feel easy to plan activities with Spanish friends, you will be able to tell who in your group is making a genuine effort (even if he or she doesn’t always manage to show up). This can be frustrating, but it can also help you see who are the people that are worth investing more in and who might be less interested in spending more time with you. It might not always be a nice feeling, but it is good to know.
Join general social activities: Let someone else take control
If you are looking for something specific but don’t want to be in charge of making sure that people actually show up, consider joining an event that is organized by someone else. In many cities across Spain you can find things like language exchanges (or intercambios) and a plethora of other activities hosted by sites like Couchsurfing or Meetup.com. You can talk to one or two people who might be interested in joining the event but, even if they don’t make it, you won’t have to worry about being alone.
It may sound uncomfortable to do this kind of thing, but it was at an intercambio where Dani and Claudia met (in addition to many other relationships that have come from this kind of thing) and it is rare not to have a good time. Therefore, we just want to remind you that sometimes it is good to do something different from what you would normally do—as long as it is within the realm of where you are comfortable.
One last reminder for this week is: If you really think about it, making friends in Spain is like making friends anywhere else in the world (albeit in a different language with slightly different cultural expectations). Like one of the bloggers we follow recently posted here, some friends are in your life for a short time, for a reason, and only a select few stay for life. This may sound a bit like the post we shared on serial friendship, but it’s true. So, be open to the people you are looking for in friendship.
What is your opinion? How have you developed friendships while living abroad?