I can’t be the only one to have thought about that! About how sad would it be to move to a new city, the best city, and have no one to share it or discover it with. Right? I worry. Human beings need to feel connected to other human beings. Social isolation hurts as much as repeatedly getting punched in the face. LITERALLY. Maybe not, but having a high sense of community (e.g. friends, family, groups) is predictive of happiness and subjective well being (Davison & Cotter, 1991). True story.
So how are we going to meet people, make friends, develop a high sense of community, and be happy when we get to NYC?
Everyone knows that people in OKCupid looking for “new friends”, are in fact looking for “new friends with benefits” and those looking for “activity partners” would like that activity to be sex. No judging. Au contraire, go for it guys. My point is that you won’t find friendship through online dating sites. So what to do?
The surest way to make friends in any city is to just go out,
get a lil’ drunk, talk to people, and if they’re cool, get their number and ask them to hang out. I know, easier said than done. Unfortunately I can’t really teach you or anyone how to make friends. What I can do is draw from experiences where my friends and I have met people in NYC and managed (or failed) to make these acquaintances blossom into friendships, and try to give you some tips about how you can do that too. Read on!
Step 1: Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I already have a friend in NYC?
- Do I have an acquaintance in NYC?
- Do my friends in my city have friends or acquaintances in NYC?
- Do my parents have friends or acquaintances in NYC?
- Do I or my friends know someone who is going to NYC at the same time I’m going?
If the answer is YES to at least one, continue to Step 2, if you answered NO to all, skip to Step 3
Step 2. Contact every single friend, friend of friend, or acquaintance living or going to NYC.
It won’t be creepy, I promise. Send a personalized FB message telling them that you’re coming town and would love to see them when you get there. Although, if they don’t reply, drop it. Also, if they’re not actual friends of yours, remind them of how you met them or who gave you their contact info. I’ve met up with a few of my non-Torontonian friends’ friends when they’ve been in town. It’s really totally OK to do that.
Knowing as little as one person in the city makes a huge difference. If they’re good friends, you’re all set. For one, they’ll introduce you to their group of friends and you’ll hopefully befriend them them too. In addition, when you go out with them, you’ll meet more people and potential friends. Maybe this is just me, but I am more likely to meet new people when I go out with a few good friends. Although I’ve never gone out by myself so maybe someone should try it and let me know how it go. Actually maybe going out all by yourself is a genius idea.
If you have no friends but decide to meet up with acquaintances or friends of friends, don’t expect too much out of it. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they won’t like you. Maybe you won’t like them. Do try it anyways. If anything, they are someone to potentially go out with and perhaps someone through which you’ll meet a new friend!
When I’ve visited NYC in the past, I’ve always gone with friends and on a tight tourist schedule. Therefore, I actually haven’t had the chance to meet up with any of my friends’ friends or acquaintances who live in the city yet. I do plan on reconnecting with them in May though. If not, I fortunately have two good friends who live in the city.
Apart from already having friends in the city, the next best thing is to know someone who is also going to NYC for an internship, school, or whatever. You’ll both be in the same boat and become buddies. I guarantee it.
Step 3: Couchsurfing!
I can’t stress enough how necessary it is to be on couchsurfing if you plan on travelling or moving to a new city. Couchsurfing is an online travelling community where you can find all sorts of great stuff for people living or passing through New York City (and almost every big city in the world), from a place to stay, activities, places to rent. Before you become a member of the site, I should warn you that couchsurfing is more than a free place to crash, it really is about meeting locals, spending some time with your host, exchanging stories, culture, recipes. Eitherway, it’s free and I highly recommend it. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below.
Useful CS links:
Step 4: Take advantage of your neighbourhood
The thing about living in such a monstrous city like New York is that people become very attached to their neighbourhood, or so I noticed in my many visits. I have three friends, each of them living in different neighbourhoods: Manhattan Lower East Side, Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Corona in Queens. They each kn0w of a place in their neighbourhood where they have “the best ___ in New York!” The best brunch, the best bagels, the best coffee, the best burger, the best fruit vendor, the best sandwich, the best pizza, the best drink specials, you name it. It’s so funny.
SO, when you get settled, I recommend you take advantage of this pride people have of their neighbourhoods to make friends. Join a dance class, or a fitness group, start frequenting the same coffee shop or the same bar. I plan on taking zumba classes once I find a place. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I want to tell you guys a few anecdotes about a couple of cool and weird people we met in NYC and how we met them but I don’t think I can fit them in this post… Keep an eye for my next posts.
Davidson, W.B., & Cotter, P.R. (1991). The relationship between sense of community and subjective well-being: A first look. Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 246–253.