How to make friends in new cities

I have moved cities more than four times since I was a kid. Every time it's been a nervous feeling trying to get along with total strangers, but I have made lifelong friends along the way.  

Friend, Amigo, Ami, Vänn, Machan, Sadeek, Sathi, 朋友, Doost, Freund, Kanca, Arkadaş. There are many different ways to say “friend” all around the world, but they all share the same meaning.

I used to play football on the streets and moving to the side of the road every time a car was about to pass with some of my earliest friends. I lived in my hometown, Moroleon, till I was 12 years old,  at that time I moved to Irapuato because of my studies. My life changed completely at that point. I was moving to my Aunt’s house along with two other cousins that were also studying there. I remember my first day of class, arriving at a school that looked like a palace compared to my previous elementary school. Being in a new classroom surrounded by total strangers. I got to say that those strangers turned into awesome friends. Fast forward three years and I am saying goodbye to them, once again I moved cities because of my studies. This time it was different, I was about to live inside the campus all by myself. The 15-year-old me didn’t want to leave the life that I had to build from scratch in Irapuato but at the same time, I was starting to feel this excitement of meeting new people and new places. 

A lot of changes came along, starting with me losing about 30 kilograms in the first semester. Yeah… I was the spoiled child of my aunty and she knew I loved food. But she wasn’t there to cook for me anymore, so I resorted to sticking to my food budget. This new lifestyle allowed me to start doing sports that I couldn’t imagine doing before. So, I now had three types of friends: Friends with whom I shared residence, friends with whom I played sports, and friends from school. I shared interests with each of them at that moment, sometimes more than one, and sometimes I was basically living in their homes. After finishing high school, you might guess what happened, I moved cities once again for the same reason as before. 

I was moving to Guadalajara, one of the most populated cities in Mexico. This time I moved into a big house close to the university with 5 other housemates. Those guys became essentially my brothers. During my university, I also made very special friendships but this time they were not just in Mexico. I had the opportunity to be an exchange student for one year at Chalmers. Remember the feeling I got the first time I moved cities? Oh boy … this time I got it times 100. Especially because I wasn’t used to speaking in English and was really nervous about making some silly mistakes. I often made silly mistakes (I still make them sometimes, to be honest) but that was exactly what helped me to improve. In addition, I must say that the Chalmers International Reception Committee (CIRC)  was a life saviour for me. I found it amazing that I right away met a group of people from many different countries and cultures, just like me, arriving in a new country starting from scratch. It wasn’t just that, they organized activities that allowed me to meet even more people with whom I shared some great memories. 

Studying here in Sweden also allowed me to travel around in my free time and you guessed it right, I got to meet even more new people and explore new places. I have some amazing memories from that exchange programme, but it also had to came to an end. One of the best feelings when coming back to Mexico was to see my family and friends again and that I got to share all the new memories I brought back from Sweden and Europe. Did something change between them and me? Yes and no. We were the same people, but we now had a ton of new experiences from that year we had spent apart. It was awesome to hear their stories and share mine. 

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I finished university and worked for a while in Mexico. Then I made it back to Chalmers, this time to study my masters. Once again, it was great to see friends that I made in my exchange that still were there. And as I did before, I got to share all the new experiences from our time apart with them. CIRC did their job again and I made new friends, but this time I could help them around with the knowledge I had gained during my exchange. This motivated me to join CIRC later and help all the new students that are coming to Chalmers. 

I am really looking forward to continuing to do this. If you are a new student coming this Autumn, I will do my best so you can have the best possible experience as well. I am also looking forward to seeing friends from Mexico and other parts of the world in person again. Who knows what new crazy stories we will share then? Who knows how many new friends I will make? That is an excitement that keeps growing for me. Hope this blog makes you as excited as I am and who knows maybe we become friends in the future!

Author: Juan​

Page manager Published: Thu 20 May 2021.