From Stranger to Ally: Making Connections Easier After Moving Abroad

Written by
Vanda Adlerova
Published on
May 6, 2024

Having spent years helping students navigate the world of studying abroad, I recently found myself on the other side of the experience. 

As I embarked on my own adventure abroad, I encountered a surprising number of articles painting a picture of isolation for newcomers. "You'll be very much alone," came up surprisingly often… But is isolation inevitable? How can we build a network of contacts and find connections in a new country?

I've only been abroad for a year now, so I'll share not only my observations but also insights from members of the Femme Palette community. 

Step number one sometimes seems trivially simple, until sometimes we forget it just because of its simplicity.

1. Look around and ask

Thanks to social media, many of us already have friends all over the world. But many of our friends also travel around the world. Look around and ask if someone you know from school, a former job, or someone you met at a conference lives in the same country. 

It was surprising how many people around me had already traveled to Amsterdam before me and had friends here or still lived here. Not only do they give you lots of proven tips on places to go. 

This is how we discovered Frank's SmokeHouse, a divine bistro with the best-smoked fish and oysters in Amsterdam. Word to the wise: arrive early and keep your group small – they only have one table! But beyond insider tips like this, your friends can introduce you to new people or even invite you to industry events.

Vanda and her classmates from summer school

2. Online networking

I thought this can't be it. Isn't it weird to just text someone when we don't even know each other? It worked for me to reach out with something specific. 

For instance, I contacted Lucie, CEO and Co-Founder of Femme Palette, on LinkedIn. I mentioned recently joining the community and experiencing its benefits firsthand. That simple message sparked further engagement – I started following the community more closely, and Lucie and I discussed ways to get involved. This eventually led to me becoming an Ambassador for the program in Amsterdam. It's a fantastic example of how online networking can foster new connections and deepen relationships abroad.

As an additional tip, check out the Harvard Business Review podcast episode "New Here." It features three compelling stories about online networking experiences from HBR contributors.

3. Femme Palette

Femme Palette fosters connections on a global scale – a perfect fit for those seeking to network abroad. The platform and its members primarily use English, creating a welcoming space for international connections. The community extends beyond Prague, with active groups in London and Berlin, and as I discovered upon arriving in Amsterdam, here too!

Individual memberships offer a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with like-minded individuals. Through the community, you can gain valuable local insights, inquire about mentoring or coaching experiences, and discover upcoming events.

For more details on membership options, visit the Femme Palette website. Keep an eye out for upcoming events hosted by FP in Amsterdam – a great way to connect with the local community!

Vanda (center) launching the Femme Palette community in Amsterdam

4. Meetups and events

Building a network takes effort – it's not simply about being online. Attending meetups and events is a fantastic way to take your connections to the next level. You might even recall our previous FP blog post on "Networking Like an Introvert" for some valuable tips!

Now, let me share my personal experience. 

I came to Amsterdam and have only done step one. So I knew a few friends who either used to live here in the past or still lived here. But I was eager to get more into life here and that's when I remembered Femme Palette. A platform I had heard of, occasionally noticed on social media. Nothing more. I found out that it had a huge community and I could join. I saw an invitation on Community Slack from Irina Veligan to Women in Tech in Amsterdam, where she was speaking as a mentor. Thanks to her and her recommendation, I not only met this amazing woman at the conference but also participated at a career hub myself. So my network expanded again.

At the beginning of all of this was one message.

5. People with the same interests

Shared passions are a powerful magnet for connection. Whether you're passionate about reading, IT, creative writing, marketing, podcasting, or anything else, there's likely a group waiting to welcome you. Take my experience, for example. I joined a group called Socrates Café, where people gather over coffee to discuss thought-provoking topics. This group has not only exposed me to diverse perspectives and hidden gems in the city, but also to fascinating individuals from all walks of life.

The Netherlands, like many places, boasts a thriving expat community with numerous events and meetups. These are fantastic for connecting with people from all corners of the globe. However, for a truly enriching experience, consider venturing beyond expat circles. Joining interest groups like Socrates Cafe allows you to connect with locals as well, fostering a deeper cultural exchange. Imagine discussing the intricacies of free will not only with fellow expats, but also with Dutch locals who bring their unique perspective to the table!

And what about insights from the Femme Palette Community?

Speaking of inspiration, the Femme Palette Community itself is a treasure trove of insights! No matter your reason for moving abroad, whether it's for work, school, or even the digital nomad lifestyle (perhaps a topic for another time!), you can find inspiration within the community.

Smart tips experienced and proven by Femme Palette community:

  • Leverage your workplace: Many companies have social events or activities for employees. Take advantage of these opportunities to connect with colleagues outside of work. Don't just stick to your department at these events. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to colleagues from different teams. If your workplace doesn't have established social events, consider suggesting a happy hour or volunteering activity to your manager.

“What helped me to build my network was the Start-up culture at work : numerous after-work events/activities with colleagues and the Meet-Up app with a lot of interesting topic-focused events,” Gaia Zanocco describes her experience. 

  • Find your tribe: Look for groups or communities that share your interests. This could be anything from a book club to a sports team. and Facebook groups are great resources for finding these types of groups.

Volunteering can be a great way too. “Volunteering and engaging in local activities is a great way to meet people, especially people who have some shared values and passions. For example, I recently moved from Prague to Marbella and started volunteering at a local dog shelter who organises group dog walking every Saturday and met some great people through that,” Amit Grinvald describes.

  • Embrace online tools: There are many apps and websites designed to help people connect, such as Bumble BFF and Internations. These platforms can be a great way to meet other expats or locals with similar interests.

“There's an org called SheSays that's in numerous cities around the world - some chapters are more active than others. I've also reached out to people on LinkedIn who moved to a city where I want to network and found people to be very receptive to talking. (This takes a little more time to research whom to reach out to),” Femme Palette community member recommends.

  • Don't be afraid to say yes: When you're invited to an event, even if it's outside your comfort zone, try to say yes. You never know who you might meet.

  • Learn the language: Making an effort to learn the local language shows respect for the culture and can make it easier to connect with people. 

“I started to learn the Greek language and immediatelly start to using it with my greek co-workers from the lab = it was like an ice breaker, usually very funny bcs of my accent and mistakes,” explains Alexandra Plachtová.

  • Be open-minded: Be willing to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. You might be surprised at the friendships you can form.

  • Be patient: Building a network takes time and effort. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately.

By following these tips, you can start building a strong network in your new city and feel more at home.

So, take a deep breath, step outside your comfort zone, and start connecting! From those initial conversations, friendships, and collaborations will blossom, transforming you from a stranger into an ally in your new home.

Join our newsletter
Receive the newest blog posts, event invites, and more
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Popular guides
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
See more guides

Latest blog posts

From our community

Unlocking career success: The power of networking and personal connection

In the vast landscape of professional advancement, one factor stands out as indispensable: networking. It's not just about collecting business cards or LinkedIn connections; it's about building meaningful relationships that can shape your career trajectory and open doors to new opportunities.Let’s explore why networking is crucial, how to leverage it effectively, and the myriad of benefits it brings to those seeking to evolve and thrive in their careers.‍
Paula Costa
July 4, 2024

Jak si zajistit wellbeing v práci díky vědomému dýchání a esenciálním olejům

Smyslem AOMU je zprostředkovat blahodárné účinky esenciálních olejů nám všem, kdo vnímáme hlubší rozměr péče o duševní i tělesné zdraví. Věříme, že takový přístup nemusí a nesmí být luxusem. Proto dáváme tisíciletími prověřeným esencím moderní a praktický kabát, abychom je v naší hektické každodennosti měli po ruce, kdykoli potřebujeme.
Adéla Košacká, AOMU
July 3, 2024

Femme Palette mentee Mimansa Bhardwaj on securing a job and building a life abroad

Meet Mimansa Bhardwaj, an anthropologist and career advisor at the University of Europe for Applied Sciences. A few years ago, she couldn't have imagined the choices and happiness she now enjoys. Mimansa throws parties at will, travels wherever she wants, spends time with people she loves, and finds immense joy in her work because of its profound impact on people's lives. Mimansa believes that career and life fulfillment are deeply intertwined. Freedom is her guiding principle, both in life and in her work.
Tanya Stadnyk
May 2, 2024

Sky rocket your career now!