WHY IT’S HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS IN A NEW COUNTRY

I moved to Denmark with my fiancė and I’m happy we did. We met in Greenland working at Thule AB; I was a bartender and he was working on the Danish civilian side. We moved to Germany afterward, where I continued working as a bartender for the military and him doing the same work in Greenland. Making friends in Germany was easy because I made friends with my coworkers who were American, like me.

I grew up as a military brat and the one and only mission that the U.S. Military asks of the children is to make friends. There are a lot of “tips and tricks” they teach children to make friends, and schools at some of the bases offer a buddy system that assigns you a friend from the moment you land at a new base. It was important for us to have friends when we first start at a new station because we, as the children, were the focus of the home. Being able to have friends helped keep that normality of life. So growing up with all that, I was pretty confident when it came to making new friends because,

  1. I have friends, so A+ on history and experience
  2. I was taught how to make friends in a new environment
  3. Being a bartender, it’s almost natural to make friends
  4. I have been told I have a great personality (truth)
  5. I’m hilarious

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With those reasons, it was in the least of my worries to make friends when we moved to Denmark. Fast forward: boy was I wrong. Having my partner gone overseas to work for long periods of time, I eventually got lonely. I didn’t have anybody to talk to and I started to want to go out and explore this new country. And it made me realize that I, in fact, didn’t know how to make new friends without help! When I was a kid, I had another person assigned to me as a friend and I was constantly submerged into a group of people. At work, making friends with your coworkers just happens without you even realizing it, especially when working at a place like a club. Now with nothing at my disposal as a stepping stone, I found it incredibly difficult to make new friends.

I never realized that the friendship culture could be different in different cultural settings and I didn’t know how to understand it. I do have one Danish friend that I met back in Greenland who I see once every three months. She lives near Copenhagen and I live in Jutland. I value my friendship with her because for one, she is a great friend and also because she gives me all these new insights on “how to’s” in social environments. However, when I looked up  “how to make friends in Denmark,” guess what came up first? That Denmark is the world’s worst country in which to make friends! I felt 100% discouraged. The search result blabbed on into my face and said that by the time Danes are in their 30’s, they are hustling in their jobs, have their families, and kind of have their friend group. Danes are not looking for short-term friendships, they’re committed to long-term relationships with deep friendship value. Great, I am too, but where do I start? How do I meet people?

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One day, I thought that there had to be something in the app store. There has to be. And there it was, our favorite, the Hey! VINA app. I downloaded it immediately and I was so grateful that it was active in Europe! I was surprised that there were so many people who were in the exact same situation as me. People moving to a foreign country, far away from the comforts of home, to be with a partner, and with the problem of the constant shadow of loneliness. Not loneliness because of the absence of a partner, but loneliness because you miss doing certain things and the familiarity of a good friendship.

It’s still hard trying to make friends; I don’t have friends in my town. Yet. I don’t know when or if it’s ever going to happen. I still have my days where I’m completely discouraged, but do I still go outside and try and talk to some people? Yes! And I know from experience that, of course, it’s going to take time. Time to get to know my new country, time to learn the language, and time to get to know the friendship culture here in Denmark. And I am proud to announce that I am sooo willing to go for it!

Did you know that when you upgrade your VINA profile and become a VINA VIP, you can teleport to anywhere in the world and start meeting friends before you travel somewhere?! Or, when you arrive, you can join local communities like New in Town or Jetsetters and meet your girl gang that way🌟

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