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Making Friends Overseas: From Friends to Family

making friends overseas
By Sara Tuzci

Do you ever look at your friends and think back to when you first met? Who would have ever imagined all the things you’d experience together or how much you’d learn and grow together? The whole idea of human connection has always been so interesting to me. It’s something so complex and something we all crave. Yet, when you look at the relationships you share with others, it feels so easy and fulfilling. This is my story about making friends overseas.

Brene Brown says, “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always been someone who enjoys meeting new people and connecting with others, and since moving to Madrid, I have met so many amazing people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Challenges of Moving Overseas: Making Friends

One of the things that scared me the most about moving to a new country was doing it alone, but I soon realized that was a fear I didn’t need to have. In September 2022, I moved to Madrid, Spain, to be an Auxiliar de Conversación with Conversaspain. “Would I make any friends overseas? Would people like me? Am I going to feel alone?” These were all my questions in the weeks leading up to my move. Then the day came, and I left the comfort of my family and friends in the States and took this big risk of moving to a completely new place where I knew no one. Since moving here, I’ve met so many wonderful people and made some of the strongest friendships I could’ve ever imagined.

making friends overseas
A group of my friends and I on a night out in Madrid

From Ireland to Mexico Stopping in Spain: Kate and I

I have met so many people since moving here, so let me tell you about some of them! One of my closest friends I met last year is my friend Kate, from Ireland. Kate and I used to have a tradition where we would hang out on Sundays and do something to teach each other about our home cultures.

The first weekend, we had an “Ireland day”. We went to a pub and shared some pints of Guinness, and Kate told me stories about her home and family. Another day in October was “Mexico Day”. We went to the Casa de Mexico en España to visit the Frida Kahlo and Día de Los Muertos exhibitions they had. Afterward, we went and ate some delicious tacos and tamales from Tiki Taco, and I shared stories about my mom’s family and what it was like to grow up as a Mexican American. We learned so much from each other over the past year and found out how similar our cultures were. We found so much relatability within each other, and I truly believe that brought us closer together.

The Importance of Creating Traditions with Friends Overseas

When it comes to creating traditions with friends, my friends and I have created a ton. Weekly family dinners are one tradition that a group of friends and I started last year and continue to do this year. Every Thursday, we get together at someone’s house and cook and share a meal.

Traditions abroad
One of our final family dinners from last year with some of our Conversa friends who returned home

This has truly become one of my favorite ways to end the work week. We get to just sit around talking about our week, laughing, drinking some wine, and eating together. Who wouldn’t love that, right? When we are together, I always think about this quote that says, “There are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that become family”, and we truly have become like a little family. I met all these lovely ladies through ConversaSpain’s Induction Meeting on my first day in Madrid last year. And, let me tell you, we all clicked instantly! It was as if we had been friends our entire lives.

Introducing My Spanish Family

Our little group consists of 7 people: the 2 “Brits” as we call them, Elysia and Zoe, and “the Americans” as they call us, Tessa, Peyton, Hailey, Molly, and me. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to have here. They are some of the loveliest people, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to experience our first year, and counting, in Madrid together.

International group of friends
Here is a photo of us from a group trip we took to Valencia last year.

I love my little Madrid family, but I cannot forget to tell you about all the other beautiful people I’ve met here. Madrid is a huge hub of international people. It is such a popular travel destination, so there are always new people coming and going. You never know who you’ll meet! I’ve made friends with people from almost every continent—Asia, Europe, Oceania, the Americas, and so much more!

I mean, just look at all these lovely people who celebrated Halloween with me. Before coming to Spain, I had only expected to learn about Spanish culture. I had never imagined how much I’d learn about different cultures from all over the world just by meeting people here.

Make Friends Everywhere You Go!

Whether it’s a person I’ve met once at a bar as they travel through the city or a close friend I met in my first week here with ConversaSpain, the connections I have made have all taught me so much, not just about the world but also about myself. I can honestly say that my favorite thing about living in Madrid is meeting new people every day. Making friends overseas has been and continues to be one of the greatest feelings.

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