So, you’ve just got off the train at (delete as necessary – Paddington, Kings Cross, Victoria, Waterloo) and you’re feeling a blend of excitement and trepidation. Living in London has always been a dream, and now you are here! You have a place to live, you have studies or a job to keep you busy in the day – but what about in your down time? How are you going to build yourself a social life?
It’s true, being alone occasionally is really good for you – but too much solitude can lead to loneliness. A good balance between healthy solitude and human contact is sometimes hard to achieve in London. There are around seven million people living here and there’s a good chance that a lot of them are also looking for new friends, too. Being surrounded by so many other humans, there must be some who are on the same wavelength as you.
Attitude is All
As ever, attitude is key. Whatever you do, don’t sit at home in front of the TV waiting for fun and action to come to you – it won’t. You have to go out and find it, and when you do, grab it with both hands.
If you really have zero mates in London, you need to work on this status fast – before you go slightly nuts. Ask fellow students or work colleagues what they do for social buzz.
Are you sporty? There are some fantastic social sports leagues in London, which are brilliant places to meet like-minded people. If you enjoy kicking a football around there are organised leagues for 5 aside football London based fixtures which take place regularly at around nineteen venues across the city. For lovers of casual matches of 5 aside football London is a wonderful place to meet up and play in competitive but friendly leagues on a regular basis.
Do Good Works
How about doing some volunteering? You could do anything from working with the homeless or in a soup kitchen, to helping children to read or taking pensioners to the hairdressers – there are many worthwhile voluntary projects in London and they are always looking for extra pairs of hands. By taking part in volunteer work you are giving something back and mixing with others who feel strongly about the positives of helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Research your Neighbourhood
Drop in to the local library and look at the community noticeboard. They are often really good places to find out about local initiatives that bring people together. Whether it’s a book group, choir, art appreciation society or film club – by joining in projects that you find interesting, you will be in the same orbit as others with similar tastes. Although not completely reliable, this is usually quite a good method of finding new friends.
Londoners are notoriously bad at speaking to each other. On public transport everybody is glued to their mobile phones and newspapers, or blocking out sound with headphones – communication with others is made really difficult. But when you try and break through the defensive shell of other people, what you find underneath most of the time is good. Newcomers to London often ignore the aloofness of their fellow city dwellers and simply plough on – usually with positive results. What I’m trying to express in a round about way is, Talk to people! Don’t be shy, be forthright – and if you smile a lot and appear unthreatening, the responses you receive will be good – and you might even strike up a conversation with a new friend.
People who share a common interest are far more likely to be friends with each other than those who have absolutely no shared interests at all. This fact makes sense. By putting yourself about in places that interest you, for example art galleries, cinemas, ornamental gardens, comedy clubs or museums – you increase the possibility of bumping into ‘friend material’. So next time you’re facing a long, lonely weekend ahead, plan a tour around some of your favourite London haunts – you never know what might happen.
Arriving in London is the start of your great new adventure. As part of that exciting adventure, you will be coming into contact with so many different people. Individuals from lives so different from your own, from many cultures and countries. You will meet people whose attitudes are totally opposed to yours, and others who are in tune with your beliefs – and among those people, if you look hard enough and remain open to possibility, you will find true friends.