How to Make Friends in a New Country as a Foreign Nurse

Moving and working abroad as an international healthcare professional is an exciting new adventure! You will have the opportunity to pursue your Dream. You will also be able to gain valuable clinical and professional experience and be exposed to opportunities that you would not get back home. You will also have the chance to make new friends at your facility and in your new community.


At first, you might be a little nervous about reaching to others at your facility or in your neighbourhood and make new friends. That’s understandable, especially since you are in a new place and trying to get settled. Once you are ready to make new friends, there are several tips you can try out if you find that you are becoming more shy and introverted.


As an introvert, we look at others who may be more social and outgoing and wonder “just how do they do it?” If you want to walk into your facility and make new friends, here are a few tips you should try.



8 Ways to make friends in a New Country as a Foreign Nurse


1. Smile and keep a positive attitude

Even though you may not be a social butterfly, you can still attract others toward you by giving a warm smile and keeping a positive attitude. People prefer being around a positive person over being around a negative one. Keeping an upbeat attitude can also help your colleagues in terms of productivity.

When colleagues are positive, it encourages more collaboration, communication, and overall patient care. Staying positive can also have an impact on your patients as they may be scared or anxious about their condition.

By providing a warm and optimistic environment for your colleagues and patients, you can make their day better. You can also increase their productivity and make them feel joy at their place of work. This will make you a great candidate for a new friend in their eyes!

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2. Listen to others

Another great way to make friends at your organisation or in your new community is by offering a listening ear. When your colleagues come to you with an issue that’s work related, try your best to listen offer a solution. You might offer to help them in any way you can, or if you are busy or don’t have the answer, you can help direct them to someone who can better assist. A colleague may even come to you with a personal issue just looking for someone to talk to.


The power of listening is very important and can show that you are a good friend. Many times, people just want someone who will listen to them when they are dealing with a situation and not give a response. Just because someone goes to you to talk doesn’t mean you have the answer–you simply can just listen! This undivided attention can really mean a lot. Be sure to make eye contact to let them know you are listening and that you care.

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3. When invited to social events, try going

After moving to a new place as an international healthcare professional and trying to adjust to the situation, it can be hard to navigate being invited to social event with people you don’t really know. If you colleague invite you to a social event, it can be nice to try going. While it might seem stressful at first, stepping out of your comfort zone will help you grow as a person and find the confidence to reach out and make new friends. You might even be surprised at how well you get along with your colleagues outside of work and find that you have a lot in common with them!


4. Give a compliment

Another kind way to interact with others is by giving out compliments. Compliments can really brighten someone’s day. In fact, studies have found that compliments have an incredible effect on the mind.  To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money.


You might feel shy or awkward about giving a compliment, but knowing you have the power to make someone’s day better should give you enough confidence to reach out to someone new! You might want to start by giving the compliment someone you interact with more frequently. You can try complimenting them on their hair, make-up or jewellery they might be wearing.



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5. Think about rejection differently

One of the major obstacles a shy international healthcare professional may have to overcome getting over rejection. No matter how kind or positive you may try and be, there are times when you may be rejected. That’s okay! If someone does not want to be friends, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. You simply have the endure the rejection and move. Do not let the rejection discourage you from reaching out and meeting new people to try and make friends! As you endure rejection, you will learn how to better navigate it and not take it personally.



6. Find colleagues who are in the same boat

Being in a crowded room of extroverts can be intimidating when you feel you’re the only one not having any fun. Keep an eye out for people who also appear to be a little quieter or stack in the corner of the room, than the rest and approach them, be open that you’re new and you’ll be positively surprised how that can be a great conversation starter. The same can be said within new hospital, during your induction, look you people who are in the same occupational group as you, find a seat next to them and ask the basic conversation starters to build a connection.

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7. Look out for Ex-pat events or social groups

Many international healthcare professionals know the feeling of being new to a foreign country and the difficultly of finding new friends, so you wont be the first person and luckily local community social groups may have already been established, which you can join. Many social groups disguised as sports clubs for example many Kiwi’s join the local rugby clubs as there will be a high chance other Kiwi’s are already members. Take a look at social media groups, the Philippine community appears strong in most locations in the world and tend to hold events and social gathering which provide valuable support.


8. Be open to people from different backgrounds

As international healthcare professionals it is naturally to be drawn and bond with colleagues from the same country, this is the easy and most natural thing to do, however can also isolate you from other potential friendship opportunities. It is therefore important to mix things up a bit, make a point to speak the local language that will welcome other to join your friendship group.


If you have decide to work and move abroad, take advantage and learn from the experience. You can only do this is being diverse in your relationships which will allow you to become more tolerate towards people who are different to you and allow you to understand and further develop your compassion and empathy towards others.


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The power of friendship

Friendship makes a difference when working abroad as an international healthcare professional. There is nothing like a great friend!


A friend is someone who is always there for you when you need them and offer support in many different ways. Friends are also great to have to call and chat with, go out for coffee or lunch or even just to have a laugh with. Studies have found that adults with “meaningful social connections” such as a strong romantic relationships, marriage, or close friendship, has as reduced risk of developing dementia and improved quality of life. The study proved that it wasn’t so much the number of friends someone had, but the quality of those relationships.


Tell us about your journey and what helped you build friendships in a new workplace, leave a comment…


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