How to Make Friends Abroad

friends in Bologna

Enjoying an aperitivo with my classmates from Academya Lingue

Living in a new country can be challenging, especially if you don’t know the local language. Once you get past the initial shock and get settled into your new environment, you might start craving some human connection. Luckily, there are some great resources out there for expats.

Here are my top 5 suggestions for meeting people in Italy:


This is essentially LinkedIn for networking with people in your area. You can set a location, visit other people’s profiles, and send them messages if you are interested in meeting up. There are event planners and ambassadors who plan fun activities in your city, answer any questions you might have, and help you connect with other people. I highly recommend this site for meeting other expats, especially if you are looking for more professional relationships. While there is a fee to become a premium member, you can still contact other people and view their profiles with only a free account. You can also attend some of the events as a non-premium member, but it is more expensive.

  • Facebook groups

Try searching “expats (city name)” in the Facebook search bar. For example, there is an Expats in Bologna page that is fairly active. Facebook groups are a great way to get advice from other people about what to do in your city. As an English teacher, I often use it to network with other teachers and post about one-on-one tutoring opportunities.

  • Language exchanges

These can be more difficult to find, but usually language exchanges are heavily advertised on Facebook. Language exchange events often take place during aperitivo time at a local bar. Try searching for language exchange events on Facebook. If there is a university in your town, walk around the campus and look for flyers. Universities usually have a very diverse student population so you are bound to find a language exchange event flyer nearby.

A Thanksgiving dinner I had with people from all around the world, cooked by my Canadian friend
  • Organize a dinner at your place

This requires a little more effort on your part, but this is an excellent way to meet new people. Bonus points if you cook a traditional dish from your country! Simply invite a few friends over and tell them they are welcome to bring a friend or two. Soon enough you’ll have a house full of people, both familiar and unfamiliar.

Meetup is a great site that helps you connect with other people who share your same interests. Once you create a profile you can search for “meetups” in your area. You can even filter your search so only groups related to certain activities show up. Some examples of meetups in Bologna include: “Meetup intelligenza artificiale Bologna,”Wine, not Whine! Speak English, study wine, and visit wineries,” and “English chat in Bologna.” As you can see, there is a wide range of groups you can join. Most groups have at least one meetup per month, but some groups might be more active and hold weekly events.

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