How do I make friends in a new city?
March 24, 2010 5:04 AM   Subscribe

How do I make friends when I'm in a new city?

I just moved to Indianapolis about 2 months ago. I still don't have many friends. I usually just hang out with my husband and I's friends, but I still feel like I need some of my OWN friends.

I'm only 18, so some of the place I can go are limited. I've met some friends at school, but will be graduation soon and probably won't talk to them much after that.

I've always been outgoing but in this new setting, I feel uncomfortable reaching out too far.

Any suggestions?
posted by shortbus to Human Relations (21 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by lohmannn at 5:07 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any interest in theatre? If so, tryout for a play or two. There's nothing like working with a group of people towards the same goal to create strong bonds.

You could also try volunteering somewhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried Craigslist? The pickings are slim, but I managed to make one friend from it and going from 1 to 2 friends still made a difference, if a small one.
posted by biochemist at 5:19 AM on March 24, 2010

I'm hoping to get involved in a Civic theatre, but I'm not sure. (I'm going to be a theatre major in the fall)

What to do that could also keep me in my comfort zone? I don't want to seem too pushy either...
posted by shortbus at 5:21 AM on March 24, 2010

Seconding and groups in general - keep an eye out on noticeboards for groups doing things you've never done before but sort of fancied, be it knitting, walking, circus skills, language evening classes, etc.

If you sign up for something and don't click with folk there, don't despair, give it a while and if it's still not happening try something else. Maybe even something you think you're not that interested in - sometimes you just find a group of people who know how to welcome newcomers and all hit it off beautifully, and the activity is secondary to that. You only need one of those and bingo - you have a whole new world of your own.

Good luck - enjoy the adventure!
posted by penguin pie at 5:27 AM on March 24, 2010

Do you speak a second language? Offer to do a tandem-partnership with an exchange student or someone who wants to improve their English.
posted by molecicco at 5:28 AM on March 24, 2010

Are you sporty? A great way to make friends is to join a local sports group. Ultimate frisbee is particularly friendly and communal if you have a local league.
posted by Go Banana at 5:28 AM on March 24, 2010

The local alt weekly has a list of events you can search through. Find some things you like and attend!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 AM on March 24, 2010

Seconding volunteering. I met my wife and about half of the people I keep in touch with doing that. For your age the best ones are probably the building / outdoors stuff or nightime stuff (You might be able to volunteer with the theater or for some festival type thing.)
The worst thing that will happen is a bunch of nice people will be either happy to see you or really happy to see you and you'll feel good about yourself. I can't recommend it enough.
posted by vapidave at 6:07 AM on March 24, 2010

Find a person with a network, perferably someone who was in your kind of position recently so their friends aren't all from a single source. I've moved around a bit and in a couple of cities the entry point into a whole new set of friends was a single person. It wasn't that I appropriated their friends wholesale, but rather that by having an introduction into their circles I met their friends, and in turn met some of their friends' friends. You don't have to be all social climber about it - just be keen and good company, and proactive to people you meet.

Talk to your neighbors. Some good friends of mine I met because we got talking about sport in the elevator one day.

Find an activity with a built in social component - a tennis club, hash house harriers, softball etc.

Get a job - another good way to spend time with people and work out who's friend material for you.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:35 AM on March 24, 2010

Yeah, you need some sort of activity or interest. As you might imagine: "Hey, I'm new in town will you be my friend?" is kind of weird/clingy whereas "Hey, I'm new in town and don't have anyone to do $Activity with. I notice you like doing $Activity. Let's do $Activity together sometime." isn't.

Games and sports are particularly good. I play poker and tennis and have had success making friends in new cities by posting on (or responding to posts on) craigslist looking for tennis partners or home poker games.

Likewise, I ride a motorcycle and pretty much every city has an active motorcycle community (or usually several, based around different kinds of bikes).
posted by 256 at 6:40 AM on March 24, 2010

We made a significant number of our new friends in a similar city and situation through our church. Which is not the church we would have thought we would have belonged to. Which is a bad way of saying, try lots of churches until you find one where you fell comfortable. And not all churches are very churchy -- our church has lots of service activities, trips, groups for people of every age.....

Also, nthing volunteering or other group things (like knitting, check out your local library, classes through the community center, etc)
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:02 AM on March 24, 2010

Take a class! I always meet tons of new people by taking classes in new skills, crafts, hobbies, or whatever. It gives you a perfect starter subject and forced social time with new people, and it's easy to suggest hanging out outside of class afterwards.
posted by Eshkol at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2010

I'm going to be a theatre major in the fall

Bang! There's your answer. There's gotta be local fringe theaters around, yes? Volunteer to do tech or ticket-taking or stage managing or whatever. Speaking as someone who used to be on staff with a fringe theater, those guys never have any money and basically will be delighted to have you do anything at all. As a result of this, you'll 1) be building resume points and 2) get to hang out with the cast and crew every time they go out for food and drink after rehearsal/performances.
posted by Skot at 9:10 AM on March 24, 2010

I'm going to be a theatre major in the fall

This is probably your best pipeline in. While not the city, there are a few local groups. Civic Theater is good, as is the Indiana Repertory Theater, though both of these tend toward the safe side of performances (The Civic, for instance, is currently doing Carousel)

For more eclectic theater, the brand-name group is probably the Phoenix Theater. They've been around a long time. There's also Theater on the Square.

There are also several small community theaters in the surrounding suburbs.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

A part time job with people of your age and social disposition would help. I've taken them in new cities on top of a full time job just to meet people, and its worked great. Cafes, coffee shops, bookstores -- things like that are the best. Not only do you make friends (either co-workers or patrons), but you get the emotional benefit of having interacted all day.

Good luck~
posted by letahl at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2010

Join this class to meet some cool people.
posted by cynicalidealist at 10:04 AM on March 24, 2010

I'm from Indianapolis! I'm so glad you asked!

First, you love theater, so you've got to hit up the Indianapolis Fringe Festival. It's mostly in late August/Early September, but they do events all year long. You could even try talking to the head of it (Ms. Pauline Moffat) and tell her what you said here (new city, want to make friends). She always needs volunteers.

Second, I don't know where in Indianapolis you are, but Broad Ripple is a great place to hang out and meet people. I suggest the Monon Coffee Co., but there's also lots of organic food and punk stores (depending on what you're into). I'd also suggest you sign up for one of the many art classes offered at the Indianapolis Art Center.

If you live closer to downtown there's Fountain Square, which has lots of social events like Swing Dance Night. Teas Me Cafe has a really great vibe to it. For fun nightlife, check out Massachusetts Avenue!

Really you're in luck. People in Indianapolis are nice! I never realized how nice until I left. Good faith attempts to be helpful and make friends will be met warmly. Good luck, and message me if you need any further help!
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:35 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your local soup kitchen or food bank is undoubtedly in need of volunteers. Pick the one closest to where you live, and you will meet the local activists, anarchists, freegans, soccer moms, community organizers, wackadoos and just plain folks. You don't have to talk much if you don't want to, but if you do, there will be someone else who also likes to talk. They honestly just need your hands and the ability to execute on directions. You'll learn a lot about your local area, the problems, the challenges, and the gossip. You can then find out about other things that you might like to do or get involved in.

Seriously, if I ever move anywhere ever again, I will do this myself. Our local didn't start up until about four years after I had already been here but boy is it a locus of information. Plus you feel GOOD when you walk out of there. And every couple of weeks something dramatic will happen that will give you good fodder at the water fountain.
posted by micawber at 2:30 PM on March 24, 2010

Thank You all so much! I'm looking forward to taking all of the advice :)
posted by shortbus at 4:58 AM on March 25, 2010

Do something that interests you deeply, and then stick to a routine schedule. The people nearby will eventually familiarize themselves with you (assuming you're doing your activities nearby others). Then, once you're both comfortable, invite them to share in a different activity with you.

For instance, I was interested in yoga, running, art, and food. So, I signed up for a yoga class twice a week. I attended a weekly $5 figure drawing class. I also ran at a popular running trail on a routine schedule.

At first, there was awkward silence, but as others around me began to familiarize themselves with me, conversations emerged. Eventually, the small conversations turned into larger ones, and I figured out who clicked and who didn't. The ones that clicked, I invited out to some cool restaurants or art events that I'd found.

It took a a couple of months, but eventually happen. The hard part was motivating myself to be around the same unknown people at the same time and place for those first few uncomfortable sessions.
posted by TheOtherSide at 5:55 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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