The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a diverse set of challenges into our lives.
One of the biggest is undoubtedly the social impacts of necessary social distancing. There are many reports and studies that examine how this has influenced our lives. One group that hasn’t had much attention has been those who may have recently moved to a new location. One of the first things anyone does when they move somewhere new is to work out how they can make new friends and start to build a new life for themselves. Usually, the first port of call will be those at work. However, many of us will be working from home for at least the near future.
How can you meet new people in a socially distanced world, without spending a fortune?
Use apps to “meet” people
If you relocated for employment reasons, you might already have enjoyed the opportunity to converse with colleagues via Slack or your employer’s messaging app of choice. Many employers have embraced initiatives such as virtual water coolers to significant effect while their teams have been working from home. If yours hasn’t, then throw the idea into the mix!
You can also ask your colleagues to socialise with you after work, albeit digitally! Don’t be afraid to bring this up, either. Your colleagues will have known you were moving. If there wasn’t a plan to help you integrate with the group when you moved, then they’ll be waiting for you to ask them.
If you’re looking to meet people outside of the workplace – and why wouldn’t you when so much social time with workmates is “talking shop” – you have plenty of opportunities to do so.
Websites and apps like Meetup continue to be popular, with debating societies, book clubs, and other socially driven groups still meeting digitally via Zoom or other messaging and conferencing platforms.
Check out community initiatives around your neighbourhood
The aftermath of and recovery from COVID-19 will be a fantastic opportunity to get involved in community initiatives. Many neighbourhoods have launched initiatives to look after vulnerable members of the community in recent months. While transmission of COVID-19 around Australia remains low, maintenance of such programs is likely to be vital for at least the rest of 2020. The coming months could even be an opportunity to reimagine what communities are for and how society looks after each other, so it’s an ideal time to get involved and meet others!
In addition to things already going on, you might have some original community ideas. You could even design something relevant to your situation and look to launch a social program for those who have been isolated or have few social contacts.
Volunteer for a cause you care about
Getting involved with charity initiatives can be incredibly rewarding. Op shops will look different in a socially distanced world. Likewise, on the street charity fundraisers might not make an appearance until 2021 at the earliest. Yet, it will still be possible to volunteer.
Think about the causes you’re enthusiastic about and explore ways to get involved. In the short-term, you might find yourself doing things digitally or have something to do at home, but even then, you’ll usually be working with someone.
Longer-term, as life returns to “normal”, you’ll find volunteer work a fantastic way to meet like-minded people.
Join local social media groups
Social media has its good and bad aspects. Just like most things in life.
Where social media can be hugely positive is when you can use local groups both to meet people and find things to do. The best approach when you’ve moved somewhere new is to seek out Facebook groups specifically for people in your situation. You will usually be able to find general “New Arrivals” groups. However, you may also be able to find “Melbourne Residents from Perth” type groups. These groups can be great for meeting people from the same place. They will be especially useful if you feel like you might experience homesickness and need to have a friend who can relate to how you’re feeling.
You’ll be surprised how often you make friends with people who grew up in the same neighbourhood, sometimes thousands of kilometres away from home!
Lookout for flyers
If you find yourself in the coffee shop or bar in the coming weeks, look out for flyers for things that are going on.
There’ll usually be something that will attract your interest, be that art exhibitions, cultural events, or clubs and societies.
Don’t just walk past the flyers; they could be your gateway to meeting someone new!
Meeting new people without spending money
Meeting new people might still feel more difficult in the coming months as we continue to be aware of needing to practice social distancing. However, there are still several means of doing so, and plenty of things you can do to benefit yourself and others. Best of all, you can do all this without spending big!
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