Hi people, this is a guest post by a friend/ ex-pat mother on how having kids affects your relationships with people in a new place. Do visit her blog tiny expats for more interesting reads.
I always said that studies help a lot to find friends in a new country, be it a university, language course or hobby workshops. You communicate with these people on a regular basis, but unlike at an office, where co-workers might not feel like mixing their professional and private lives, fellow students find it much easier to socialise with each other. I came to London, when I was 17, and most of my best friends I have to date I met through studies. When we moved to Germany, we found our alumni living in the same city – how lucky was that? They helped us a lot with getting to know our new temporary home.
On another hand, once you have a baby, there’s no need to work hard on finding new acquaintances – these little socialisation helpers work their magic, giving you endless opportunities to connect. I met a friend in a baby’s group, where I went together with my older daughter. Babies there were around 6 months old and, to be honest, couldn’t care less about other tiny persons crawling around. It was more like a place where mom’s went to hang out and have a chance to talk to each other, all under a pretence of giving our kids companions to play with.
Most of the people I knew in Shanghai, I met on a playground in our compound. Having children around makes starting conversations extremely easy, just go with something like ‘how old is he/she?’, ‘still teething?’, ‘sleeping through the night?’, ‘how’s your weaning going?’ and that’s it, you’re sorted, you’ll have things to talk about for days to come. Later on you go with your kids to a kindergarten or school and discuss their test results and assignments, all the while meeting new people, some of whom might become your friends.
Overall, kids are the natural icebreakers in any country. You might be scared that having a kid, while living as an expat in another country, not having close relatives nearby to help you out, would be very hard (and yes, it would be), but look at a bright side – you won’t be stuck for conversations starters ever again.