What's a good way to make friends when moving to a new city?
April 27, 2005 1:57 PM   Subscribe

What's a good way to make friends when moving to a new city? My baby sister is graduating from college this spring and relocating to Chicago. I'd really like to help her find her way once she gets here.

She will be living with my husband and me until she can find employment. I adore her, as do my husband and my friends but I think she needs friends her own age as well. (She's considerably younger than me.)

She's clever and kind but can be very shy. She went to a large state school and a very hard time making friends there.

Thanks for any help you can provide this pseudomommy.
posted by Sully6 to Human Relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Drink with Metafilter users. That's what I did.
posted by angry modem at 2:04 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: Get into activities. Now that I'm 'alone' in a city and out of college, I play indoor soccer in two leagues (one competitive, one non-competitive) and play dodgeball. There's all kinds of people out there with similar hobbies; she'll make friends at work too.

Whatever she does, don't let her lean on a relationship to get friends. My sister did that when she moved to St. Louis, and when the relationship ended suddenly, she lost all of the friends she'd met through her boyfriend as well.
posted by SpecialK at 2:04 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: After she finds employment - well thats one way.

But for someone out of college, regardless of how you feel about living with other people, I'd also recommend she find a shared situation with people she likes. Not only do housemates make a sort of instant small society (in the best cases) but also they bring friends over and they can make good default companions for going out and exploring the kinds of things/places you might not feel as comfortable going alone. I'm still great friends with many of my former housemates from when I was in my early 20's.

Also, look into alum events for the college she went to. I know my college has a "recent-grads" type social club. College already provides a shared connection.
posted by vacapinta at 2:10 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: All good points so far, I would add that one thing that's worked for me is community theater. I don't know if she's into theater obviously, but I imagine there are similar organizations for other arts, like writing groups or whatever. Check the Reader.
posted by rkent at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: Have her take a class or two at the Old Town School of Folk Music. That's how a lot of my grad school friends made non-grad school friends when they got here.

Also, the MCA has great mixers the first Friday of every month.

Don't worry. Chicago's a friendly city; she'll be fine.
posted by felix betachat at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: craigslist > chicago > event calendar
posted by foraneagle2 at 2:45 PM on April 27, 2005

I second SpecialK's suggestion of getting into activities. It should be something she already enjoys (or always wanted to do) and something that has a community effect.

I tried taking some classes but wasn't able to connect with anyone. It wasn't until I started taking Aikido, where you're part of a group of people in a dojo, that I was able to make new friends in Chicago.
posted by bibbit at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2005

I second angry modem. I went to a Chicago meetup last night and met good people.
posted by grateful at 2:56 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: I'm a pretty shy person, and "activities" never really worked for me as a way to make friends. The hard part about meeting people isn't the finding them, it's the starting conversations and making connections. In Chicago, it's easy to find a public space where lots of people you _could_ be friends with are congregating, but that's useless if you're like me and just can't bring yourself to spontaneously interact with a semi-stranger. I spent a couple of years in bars and didn't meet a soul.

I had pretty good luck meeting people I "knew" from online mailing lists and other online communities. I also found the Salon/Nerve/Onion online dating site useful for finding people who were interested in meeting new people. Don't laugh, it's really not that bad.
posted by tew at 2:59 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: I have had a fair amount of success posting on the Craigslist Activity Partners section, and specifying what I'm looking for in people I want to meet. I post some fairly narrow requirements, and suggest some activites. I get between 1 and 5 responses each time. I post about once a month. I've met several cool people this way.
posted by agropyron at 3:12 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: I recommend MEETinCHICAGO, which is a loose group of people who post cool events that are happening in the city. Members then meet up at the events and hang out.

I'm a member of the Phoenix group and really like it so far. I've met dozens of cool people and discovered that there is way more going in on Phoenix than I ever imagined.
posted by chicken nuglet at 4:56 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: I met all my friends here through Livejournal.
posted by sugarfish at 5:15 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: We Gapers Block folks have a gathering every month (if she can tolerate slightly geeky people and lots of digital cameras, she'd be more than welcome), and a fairly robust listing of local events on the site every day.
posted by aladfar at 6:39 PM on April 27, 2005

Not to be a downer, but someone that had trouble making friends at a "large state school" probably isn't a Big City girl. Large schools have as many if not more options for meeting people/making friends. Sounds like a smaller town might be a better fit for her. Though, I suppose being young she could come out of her shell a bit living in the city. I've seen it happen. I suppose what I am trying to say is don't expect her to join groups/clubs/organizations/etc. to meet people. If she's shy/quiet she'll probably meet people in more intimate environs like work (if she works somewhere condusive to these relationships). FWIW, I've found that extroverted people have a hard time understanding introverted folks and think that what works for them will work for anyone, socially speaking.

Some folks just don't have a lot of friends. It's ok and shouldn't be something to harp on as it will only make things worse.

(I do second the "shared accomodations" rec. though that can be rough on introverted folks, too.)
posted by shoepal at 8:16 PM on April 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

Felix, I'm curious about your experiences with First Fridays. I always heard they were a big meat market but maybe that's changed.

Nice to hear about Gapers Block, too. It's one of my favorite Chicago Web sites.

Shoepal, I know you meant well, but I wouldn't assume too much. My sister has been staying with me off and on since she was 13. She loves big cities and is quite independent.

She's just not very outgoing. She's very funny and gregarious around those she knows but it takes her some time to warm up to people.

Anyhow, thanks again all!
posted by Sully6 at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2005

Best answer: I came to Chicago knowing no one and I was from a large state school. It can be very intimidating.

The nice thing about Chicago is that is a city of "little neighborhoods". So it can have big city benefits with small city appeal.

The Old Town School of Folk Music (as felix betachat suggested) really is great. And Second City's improv classes. Because these are activities that require students to interact with one another, it is easier to get to know other people. The activities themselves helps with the shyness thing.

The friends I still have since moving here in '88 are people I met in grad school classes, through work, and through a group called Chicago Street Project. CSP organized volunteer events every week and you could just show up at the ones that interested you. We worked for soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, Cabrini Alive, Larabida Children's Hospital...you would run into the same folks again and again, and you would become friends. I think Chicago Cares runs programs like this in Chicago now...

Some churches have a very active young adult community...such as Old St. Pats. Young Adult Mass once a month is a find-a-date frenzy :) Lots of temples and churches have such social groups.
posted by jeanmari at 8:59 PM on April 27, 2005

Felix, I'm curious about your experiences with First Fridays. I always heard they were a big meat market but maybe that's changed.

I haven't been to one in ages, but from what I've heard they still are. You'd probably want to give her a primer on big city dating and maybe play wing-woman. But it is a good way to meet people. The crowd is pretty much MetroMix professionals, so they'll be a little boring probably. But that'll mean less worry for you, right?

Oh, and don't forget that with summer coming up, there'll be concerts in Millennium Park again. Get a bunch of friends together, have them bring their friends, drink lots of wine and boom. Instant social network!

Good luck, Sully.
posted by felix betachat at 10:13 PM on April 27, 2005

Hey, I've got a pal who has trouble meeting new people moving to Chicago at the end of May/early June. Of course, he's going to be living with another pal who is the most social guy I've ever known, so maybe it won't be so bad for him...
Heh. "Your little sister should hang out with a friend of an internet stranger, because they'll both be new to Chicago!" Yeaaah.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 AM on April 28, 2005

Response by poster: Merci! I really appreciate all the suggestions. If you live in Chicago, feel free to stop by for cookies and milk at my house any time.
posted by Sully6 at 12:52 PM on April 28, 2005

I second the suggestion of joining (or at least visiting with) a faith community. I was in Chi-Town on business over a weekend and went to the local Presbyterian Church (since that is what I am) on Sunday, and they were very friendly.
posted by Doohickie at 2:28 PM on April 28, 2005

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