strangers friends

You don’t have to move to a new country to experience culture shock. You can simply change jobs, move to a new town, or start attending a new school.

Feeling out of place is completely normal. A friend once described this as feeling like wearing someone else’s wet bathing suit! Yuck. That would definitely feel shocking.

It takes a little time to embrace a new normal and open your arms wide to all that seems different.

As someone who grew up in a family who moved every three years, I’ve had experience in fast-forwarding through culture shock. And 12 years ago when I moved to Stockholm, Sweden, I had the opportunity to learn how to do it all over again!

I want to share some tips that always have worked for me in making connections. These will work even in a new country like Sweden where people seem more introverted.

Super Charge your Connections

We are all always connected; seeing separation is an illusion.

  1. Smile. “Sometimes joy is the source of your smile and sometimes your smile is the source of joy.” (Thich Nhat Hanh) Spread joy.
  2. See friends, not strangers. We are all here on this earth as human beings we have so much in common. We are not strangers to each other and never will be.
  3. Make friends. “Be a friend make a friend.” Show up friendly and listen with care. Be helpful.
  4. Be genuine in directing your attention. Make a connection you genuinely care about by getting interested and being present. Pay attention to those you meet. Take a look into another person’s world with respect and awe.
  5. Contribute. Be intentional. Wake up and think to yourself, “How will I live today connecting and contributing to making this day the way I would like?” Then do it.
  6. Notice the energy. Different people contribute and connect to your energy as you connect and contribute to their energy. It is synergetic. Notice those that feed off your energy and you in return feel energized by.
  7. Connect with conversationExtend your curiosity to others. Everyone has something to offer. Even if you intended to be alone stay open to the possibilities that the better part of your day could be learning about the world of the person next to you.
  8. Be You. There is only one you. Show up in this world clearly. Know what you value and your passions.
  9. Share enthusiastically. Passion is contagious. Someone is in need of what you have to offer right now. (everywhere in the world) Be vulnerable: open and share.
  10. Pay it forward. Give when you have something that is needed.

Remember: You are never alone. You have your Self and from the inside out you connect with the world around you.

If you ever need some more support from a therapist who speaks English in Stockholm, get in touch.


Marie Stien” by Flickr user Philippe Put is licensed under CC BY 2.0.