The First Step – Making Friends in a Strange New Land

March 15, 2013

By Guest Blogger Amanda Scarborough

I have always been one of those women who believe having one or two friends I can call with any problem, whether insignificant or life changing is enough. I have never been overly outgoing and quite honestly, I am someone who likes living within the comfort of my little world. That is, until I left my friends, family, and two dogs behind and moved to Sydney, Australia for six months.

I knew when I made the decision to spend six months studying abroad in Sydney I would have to do many things I had barely considered, including embracing change and leaving my comfort zone. Although I had traveled before, I had never traveled extensively or more importantly, alone. I knew to make this a worthwhile and truly life-changing experience I would have to be outgoing and fearless, or at least pretend (fake it till you make it, right?). Otherwise, I would be doomed to spend six months locked in my room Skyping my family and friends. To say the least, I was equally terrified and excited.

Amanda, second from left, and her friends.

Amanda, second from left, and her friends.

Upon arrival, I immediately had to attend a few orientation seminars. As I sat and listened to strangers with adorable accents tell me what emotions I would encounter over the next six months and what to expect from my courses, I looked around at a sea of faces. I decided I would find one that looked not only as scared as I was sure mine did, but one that looked kind. After the session, I promised to make a point to introduce myself.

That first night, as I made my way out of the auditorium, I heard a familiar accent. As I turned to introduce myself I saw exactly what I was looking for, scared excitement in three kind faces. I made friends with three girls, two from California like myself and one from New York. We were all very different but equally as thrilled to be in Sydney and to have met one another, but a little lost as well. We headed off to coffee that night and made plans to meet for dinner the following night.

It took one moment of fearlessness to force myself to say hello to a couple of strangers and in an instant we were off having coffee and sharing our expectations for the wonderful journey we had just began. In the end, I traveled around South East Asia with one of those women, and now have a friend for life. All it took was one little step. And it’s that step that taught me a valuable life lesson about female friends. If I want to make new friends, I need to be bold and reach out – and not wait for someone else to do it first!

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