Making friends after moving to a new country is challenging under the best of circumstances. And since so many of us are working or studying from home these days, forging new social connections is more daunting than ever.
That's why City Central is starting a new project to help combat isolation and stay connected to the city: Welcome Friend.
Welcome Friend will pair up recently arrived students and international residents for a period of six months with a local English-speaking volunteer, who may be Dutch or any other nationality, who can help them get to know Groningen better.
The goal of Welcome Friend is to facilitate social connections beyond the typical student and expat bubble. By making friends with long-term city residents, new arrivals feel a stronger sense of belonging and a more meaningful bond with Groningen.
Welcome Friend is part of our My Local Friend project, which launched three years ago and pairs newcomers with locals to practice their Dutch skills. From now on, the project will be split into two tracks: Welcome Friend for social support, and Taal Friend for Dutch conversation practice.
Due to the Coronavirus, simple things like meeting in person for a cup of coffee or a visit to the market are not so simple these days. In the interest of safety and in compliance with social distancing, while we encourage a mix of in person and online contact, Welcome Friends are free to stay in touch by telephone, video chat or WhatsApp.
The website relaunch of My Local Friend is live, so if you are looking for a social or Dutch conversation friend - or would like to join us as a Welcome Friend or Taal Friend volunteer – visit the My Local Friend website to schedule an intake.