In the last four days in Barcelona I’ve been laughing to jokes in stand-up comedy night (free entrance), teared my eyes up in a poetry/spoken word night (free entrance) and danced to electronic mixed tribal beats in an ecstatic dance night (entrance 12€). I’ve listened to live music in a jazz club (free entrance) and drank ecsotic juice (6€) on a juice-bar on a date/meeting a new friend. I’ve been invited to an art gallery one year anniversary, to a psy trance -rave party and to a commune get-together (this last one I went to, free entrance, but I brought some wine and bread with me like a true believer, joke intended).
I’ve met people all over the world, talked about education systems in various countries, learned about films, art, startups, Spanish culture. And I did this all speaking virtually no Spanish or Catalan at all. I’m not proud of not yet talking the local language(s), but I say this to point out that all this is possible also in English – at least in an international city like Barcelona there are lots of event in English.
And I must also say that Before these four days though, I spent many nights just in my room typing at my computer barely meeting any new people. Also, as a confession my fifth day after these four adventure-rich days was spent mostly in my bed, where I relaxed and suffered from a horrible headache (and no, I don’t drink much).
I say all this to illustrate that many a thing is possible when wanting to meet new people. I know it’s not easy for everyone to meet new people like me, it hasn’t been easy for me also in the past, so I thought to share some tips to all of my readers.
1. Events and Facebook-groups
Toastmasters is an international non-profit focused on developing one’s public speaking skills. It’s free to try out and if you decide to join, the monthly/yearly fee is also pretty cheap. Aiesec is world’s largest youth organizations that offers many activities and events for its members. Also many universities have their own student organizations and Erasmus Student Network for example hosts many events for exchange students. Internations is a large community for expats and they have lots of things going on as well – joining is free!
I’ve found out many amazing event just by going to facebook’s event section. There is the events near me -section, which shows all kinds of interesting events happening around on on nearby days. Meetup.com has many events as has FeverUp (only a few big cities in the world) as has EventBrite.
Coachsurfing.com also has their own events and people who are open just meeting up even without offering a room to overnight in – just create a profile to the service and start sending people message. Tripadvisor has also their own Things to do -section. For more good info on buying tours and events online, check out this article!
Also you can find international events and people through facebook or google by searching:
- “expats [city name]”
- “international (people) [city name]”
- “(meet) new friends [city name]”
- “[hobby/interest] [city name]”, for example meditation Barcelona
Also many cities have their official city-website where you can find a ton of events. Just try googling:
- “official [city name]”
- “free/cheap events [city name]
- “events [city name]”
- “official events [city name]”
- “what to do [city name]”
- “culture [city name]”
2. Getting to Know the City
There are many expensive options for tourists to an guided tours and get to know the city. Airbnb has also lots of these expensive events. I as a student have to live within a strict budget, so I’m drawn to city’s free walking tours (also this link). These tours in themselves are free, but people actually earn their living giving these tours, so at the end of the tour they ask for voluntary donations. Based on the tour, you get to decide yourself on how much you think the tour has been worth.
One good way of getting to know the city you live in also trying to explore it like a tourist or a documentary film maker would, even and especially if it’s your home town. If you live in a not English-speaking country, try out speaking only English for one day! Many travel bloggers and newspapers also offer their own tips for people. You can google:
- “must see [city name]”
- “must visit [city name]”
- “must do [city name]”
- “to do [city name]” / “to-do [city name]”
- “adventure [city name]”
- “tourist [city name]”
- “underground [city name]”
- “attractions [city name]”
3. Romantic Opportunities
Tinder is such an obvious application, I’m not going to go to that in here. I’ve used it and met many interesting people, and I just say, if you use Tinder, write some profile text and have good pictures. Besides Tinder, I like OKCupid, a dating website and app, where people actually write about themselves on their profiles. OKCupid also asks the users many questions about morality, sex, political views, values so that it can match like-minded people together better.
Bear in mind that although dating services are mostly for singles, it’s also perfectly fine to say in your profile you’re jus looking for friends/meeting new people in general. From other dating apps/websites I have no real experience of. Another good source is facebook-groups. Just type “[your city] single” in the facebook search and you will find event pages and groups where singles can meet each other. Meetup.com also has a special section just for singles (link the single scene in Barcelona) 😉
4. Volunteering Opportunities
I’ve volunteered at 10+ festivals and events in my life. Some perks of being a volunteer versus being a visitor at an event:
- As a volunteer you get “backstage-access” and get to meet organizers, speakers and guests of the event + other volunteers as well, who are often interesting people
- As a volunteer you get to enjoy the event/festival also
- As a volunteer you don’t have to pay for tickets for the event
- Also, volunteering in organizations (versus events) gives you access to many free educational courses as volunteers are often (not always) trained well. To search for volunteering options in your city, just google or search in facebook: “volunteer [name of your city]”
If there are events you would like to volunteer in, just send the organizers of the event a message in messenger chat or by email. In the message ask if you can volunteer for them, state what kind of experience you have (attached CV is always good) and state if you have any wishes for what type of volunteering would you like to do.
5. Four Additional Tips for Meeting New People and Adventuring in Your City
1. Follow Your Intuition
I have been to many drinking-partying-nightclub-evenings in the past, but don’t enjoy them that much anymore. This is why don’t force myself into going to them, but I’d rather search for spiritual communities (through meditation-workshops for example) or find places where artist gather (through poetry-events for example). Seek out what speaks to you -is it climate activism, tuning your automobile, martial arts, religion or maybe fitness? – and find and reach out to communities around that. The expression I commonly hear spoken is “Find your tribe”.
2. Try Out Something New At Least Once A Month
Having just wrote above of finding your tribe, I would also advice of expanding your comfort zone in addition to that. So find your tribe, yes, but don’t always stay with. Face your prejudices and awaken your curiosity by trying out something new at least once a month. A personal example: I thought what would be something out of character for me: What would a really un-Olli thing to do? High-posh dog grooming world is something I’ve never understood and had prejudices about so I one day I spent an hour watching a documentary on just that topic.
I often think about the analogy of stretching a muscle and connect it with my mind and values. How can I stretch my mind, my value system and my mental concepts and constructions about the world? Meeting your own prejudices and limitations of your world-view and values doesn’t always feel nice as stretching doesn’t always feel nice. Still, without any stretching both my body and mind (and my values) would be more stiff and limited. This is also a good exercise to become more aware about your boundaries and who you are and who you are not.
For a great and fun movie saying yes to new things, I recommend watching the Yes Man starred by Jim Carrey.
3. Get Into the Habit of Greeting People
This part might be self-explanatory to my non-Finnish readers, but since I’ve lived in one the most introverted countries of the world, I want to acknowledge this. When going to a new event, make it a habit of going out and shaking hands with every person you meet (well, maybe not in a gathering of hundreds or thousands of people, but you get the point). And, only shake hands if it’s part of the culture.
But in many parties and events I’ve been to, many people just hang out in their own group of friends and don’t even try to talk to new people. Don’t be these people. If small-talk is hard for you (as it has been for me), you can just change names and ask how the other person got there or if they know someone around. Also good questions to ask are about what interests, hobbies, passions or dreams the other person has. Huge bonus is if you actually care about what the other person has to answer; if you do, state it, and if don’t, don’t try to fake it either.
Besides greeting everyone at new event, one good habit to get going is to start adding people you find interesting on facebook. This goes right hand in hand with the habit of saying goodbye to all the people in a venue, just go around and thank everyone for the evening and the organizers for the event. And with the people you connected with, you can just take out your smartphone with its facebook-app (I use the Lite-version) and give it to them saying can you add them on facebook. I’ve done this tens or hundreds of time and only some individuals have declined.
4. Have Something Real Going on For Your Life
For many years in my life, I felt really stagnant and not proud with what I was doing. I didn’t live up to my values and ideals and felt rather rootless and without a solid identity. I was searching for validation from outside sources all the time and really didn’t have that much going on in my life in terms of projects I was proud and happy about. This all made me vibe in social situation not that great.
People are many times drawn to people who are living up to what they believe is right in this life and living up to your standards is super-healthy also. So before just going out to meet new people, it might be a good question to try answer who you are and what do you really want to do in this life. Or if all this is unclear, being honest about it all is always good; it would be a really good conversation starter in getting know people to say that you don’t know what you want to do in your life and are trying to find it out.