How to find local friends?


Friendship and good relationships with other people make our life better in many ways. However, sometimes we end up being alone and not having even one good friend in our lives. In these situations it is important to be able to find new friends. But how to do it? How to find new friends, especially if you are already an adult? Or to make it even more difficult: how to find new friends if you are living in a foreign country and a culture? In this case, how to find Finnish friends, if you are not a Finnish person yourself?

(I have written about finding new friends from different perspecives here and here). 

Being a foreigner makes getting Finnish friends a lot harder, but luckily not impossible. The difficulty comes not only from the cultural differences, but also from the lack of common language. Even though most Finns speak at least some English, they still prefer to communicate in Finnish. But there are other reasons as well, which make finding Finnish friends more difficult. 

Having a common language is an important part of a friendship

Probably the most important single reason in not finding new friends easily is the lack of common language, in this case Finnish. In a close friendship it is very important to be able to communicate one’s thoughts and wishes, even about the most difficult topics. This is possible only, if both friends speak the same language. Of course it is possible to understand each other well enough in English and of course friendships can be made even without Finnish language, but still: speaking Finnish will get you further in Finland than just speaking English. Learning Finnish well will make everything here much easier, finding friends among them.

Be active and visit a lot of parties and events

It is easiest to meet new people at parties, hobbies and other events. Being social and active is very important here. To find new friends, first we have to talk with people and get to know them. It is important to be actively interested in other people: listen to them, really listen, learn their story and try to build a common understanding. Ask them a lot of questions but also remember to tell them about yourself. Of course not everyone you meet will became your friend, but still, this is a starting point.

 Koripallo, jalkapallo, lautapelit…Harrastuksien avulla voit tutustua uusiin ihmisiin

Don’t hurry in becoming close friends: give Finns the time they need

It takes time for a friendship to develop and it must not be hurried. We Finns are often accused of being ”slow to warm up” and there is ccertainly some truth to that. We are usually not ready to become a close friend with someone we have just met. For this reason it often feels distressing when a foreign person we just met at a party starts sending us messages on Whatsapp every day and constantly asks us to hang out. We like to take our time in building the friendship and don’t like to feel that the other person is ”forcing us” to make it too quickly. 

A good idea is to first add people we meet on the social media, such as Facebook. After this you can slowly start to get to know that person and building a connection with him/her, for example by reading their status updates and commenting on them, or even sending them a private message. It is important not to do this too much though, because the other person may feel pressured if you are too active. Give them time to get to know you and build your friendship slowly.

Let the other person decide, which is the right amount of communication

For many Finns it may feel strange to get to know a foreign person. This is not because there is something wrong with foreigners, but instead because most Finns do not have any experience with being a friends with a foreigner. For this reason it is important to give Finnish people an opportunity to ”set the pace” and decide in how actively they want your friendship to develop. 

For example, if your new acquaintance seems to be interested in communicating with you, it is fine to ask them to hang out. But if he or she does not show clear interest in hang out with you, give them time. Maybe send them a message from time to time, ask how they are doing, but don’t put too much pressure on them.

It is also certainly possible, that the person is not looking for new friends. You must not take this too personally.

According to statistics, most Finns have only one or two ”best friends” and less than 10 close friends. Thus it is very common that many people are not looking for new friends at all. It does not mean that there is something wrong with you, but instead they just don’t have time or energy for any new friends.

Suomen kielessä on kaksi käännöstä englannin sanalle ”friend” Ne ovat ystävä ja kaveri. Ystävä on läheinen kaveri.

In conclusion

These tips may make it sound like it is very difficult to find new friends in Finland, especially, if you are a foreigner. And it is certainly true, that finding new friends is easier for Finns than it is to foreigners. Luckily this is not the whole truth. It very much depends on you being active: how often you visit parties and events, how much you talk to new people and get to know them and how well you work on building your friendship after meeting them. Good news is that if you keep on being active, it is statistically very likely, that you will find new friends sooner or later. It certainly takes a lot of work to find friends, but in the end it is totally worth it. 

I hope these tips were helpful. I wish you all the best!

You can find more tips like this (in Finnish) on my blog and YouTube channel. Check them out if you found these tips useful, thanks!

With love,