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While moving to a new city can be the thrill of a lifetime, for some of us it could be a daunting experience. Dubai can be a city where you could either go party every night of the week or sit by your laptop watching reruns in your apartment or share space with a stranger with an awkward silence for company.

However, the advantage one has in Dubai is that most of us are from different parts of the world, and most probably, sharing the same dreadful possibility of a weekend alone. If you have been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to live in a different part of the world be it for a job, relationship or even a short period of time make the most of it. Here are some helpful tips to get you off the couch.

The workplace is not only for work

Yes, you are new to the job and want to prove you deserve it by having your nose in your computer at all times but being detached will affect productivity, leaving you feeling out of place. So, the next time you go for a coffee break, ask your colleague/s if they would like to join you or better yet, buy them one. Be mindful not to come on as too strong, but make an effort to join into conversations. Most of them will be welcoming as they too were new at some point.

Make an attempt to go that extra mile. Getting a small cupcake for someone on a birthday or a cute card to show your presence is all it takes, and chances are they will do the same. Try coming in a bit earlier to have some time to chat with colleagues before a busy day.

Get to the nearest gym or pool

Most buildings in Dubai will have a gym or swimming pool, however basic. Even if you aren’t someone who is into fitness, an hour at the gym will still do you good, health wise and friend-wise.

There are always common faces at the gym whom you can begin to interact with and ask about fitness routines, or even classes you would like to take together. Either way you get a good workout without having to leave your building. Making friends is a bonus.

Join specific online groups 

Facebook and other social media outlets are full of groups for like-minded people. Expat groups are easy to find and if you are looking for your specific nationality, or people living in your vicinity make sure to be open-minded but smart.

Don’t be quick to judge someone over the internet but at the same time be well aware of the risks of meeting strangers. Choose to meet in a public place or as a group. Most forums have regular official meet-ups, which then lead to friendships and more informal settings. So get online and start hunting for your group today.

Be a good neighbor

Most of us either live alone or share a space with a flat-mate or roommate which can also be lonely. While meeting a neighbor in the hallway, a friendly wave or smile can help. Soon there will be a more meaningful interaction. You could ask your neighbor for helpful suggestions on where to buy groceries or their favourite takeaway joint. If they are new to the area like you, invite them over, or explore the neighborhood together.

If you live with other people who are already well acquainted with each other, try and make an effort to join in. Share your meals or even cook/order food for your flat mates one night, or have a potluck just to show your willingness to make friends.

Get out and glued off the screen

Where it is easier to order food and glue yourself to your laptop for the rest of the evening, try and consciously make an effort not to. Make small changes; for example, if you feel lazy once you are home, don’t go home. Go straight to the gym or wherever you planned initially. Do not allow yourself to retreat into your comfort zone. Give yourself a time limit and set an alarm to leave the house at a point of time before settling in for another episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S that you’ve already seen a million times.

Meet friends of friends

Chances are someone you know, an aunt, a friend, a brother or a cousin has a ‘friend’ in Dubai, do not hesitate to ask for their contact details and pay them a short visit. Be a good guest and take a small token of appreciation when visiting them, making them feel special too. If they are not of your age group drop them a text asking them if they know of any activities you can partake in. The possibilities are endless, but you have to make the first step.

Stop stressing about it

One of the most harmful things we can do is feel sorry for ourselves or choose to be alone. Stop worrying about the fact that you don’t have friends or you need to make friends quick. These things are more fluid and natural so once you are content and positive you will easily attract people towards you without even trying. Get into a routine of going to a gym, cooking (or learning how to), revisit a hobby or going for a walk and the right people will show up.

Even as children we have always had the ability to make friends and interact with people, it may be harder now due to society’s pressures or the high expectations we set for ourselves, but keep in mind a friend can be anyone you feel comfortable talking to or sharing some pleasant moments with.  As Dr. Seuss says, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”  So get out there and make some memories today.

- Sanobar Mistry is a published journalist and currently a kindergarten teacher in Dubai.