Australian Adventures: How to Make Friends in a New City
“What did you do in school today?”
“I had a sword fight with Goldilocks.”
Week one in Australia has been an adventure. I’ve learned some strange lingo, upset a snobby barista, and managed to drive on the wrong side of the road at a consistent speed limit that is 20 mph slower than my grandma. It’s been great!
Let’s back up a bit. What I’m doing in the best country in the world?
Straight up—I’m an Au Pair.
If you told me a year ago that I would be living in Australia and looking after children, I would have said, what are you smoking? But now, you’re looking at a 24-year-old nanny whose daily conversations revolve around farts and vine impersonations with children under the age of 12 (hi Flynn). It’s pretty entertaining.
So yeah, that’s what I’m doing in Australia. And I’m pretty happy about it. It gives me a lot of freedom to explore the country, eat my weight in avocados and work on my dream of having a beautifulllll Aussie accent. Good onya!
But something that has been an adjustment is making new friends. How the hell am I supposed to meet people if my only interactions are with kids?!
You’d be surprised by how big the Au Pair community is in Melbourne. I’m talking Facebook groups on top of Facebook groups of Au Pairs living in Melbourne. So, naturally, I joined a few—Melbourne Au Pairs Friendship, Melbourne Au Pairs Brunch Enthusiasts, Melbourne Au Pair Babes, Melbourne Au Pair Cats. You know, the good ones.
But OMG, I was not expecting to get so many random message requests from girls asking to hang out! I was so excited at first—potential friends started pouring into my inbox. I said yes to hanging out with everyone during my first week because I was scared that if I said no, I wouldn’t make any friends!
But then realized…it’s my first week. It’s my FIRST WEEK. Why am I having so much anxiety about making new friends?! I’ve never been one to worry about that sort of thing. I can make friends with a watermelon.
So I canceled all of my potential nanny dates and ventured off into the city of Melbourne on my own. I didn’t feel like making friends through a desperate Facebook group. I wanted to make friends the old fashioned way.
Exploring a foreign city by yourself can be intimidating, but I have 2 years of NYC life under my belt and when you’ve seen a naked, homeless man on a subway car at 3 in the morning…nothing can scare you.
In 24 hours, I walked around Melbourne with a Kiwi I met on the street, made friends with an overly trendy, hipster lady selling vintage clothes at a market in Fitzroy, got the 411 about where to go out in CBD from a trusted banker bro, got offered a job at a rooftop bar, hung out with an old friend at a footy game and met some really cool peeps at a Sunday Session.
And maybe you’re thinking, “I could never go out on a Saturday night by myself.” Um yeah, I thought the same thing until I found myself dancing on a table at a black tie event surrounded by members of Australia’s military and their gorgeous wives. That’s a different story.
My point is that, yes, it’s intimidating to make new friends in a foreign city (especially when you already have awesome ones at home #nonewfriends). But I learned that you can’t force yourself to make friends. I’ve noticed that when I’m doing things that I like to do, I meet people who share similar interests as me. I’d rather be drinking and dancing next to a 40-year-old woman at a club in a big city, rather than go on an awkward coffee date with an Au Pair who probably doesn’t speak English. But that’s just me.
So never be worried about making friends wherever you are in the world. And if you are, I bet there’s a Facebook group for that.