Once upon a time, in what seems like a lifetime away, I was offered a job which meant moving 250 miles and 5 hours away from everyone I knew. I was two years out of university with not a sniff of being paid for what I had a degree in, and this was the chance to take a step onto the career ladder in PR & Influencer Outreach, so naturally I jumped at it.
Moving to a new city where I didn't know anyone didn't really come into my mind when I made the decision, just overwhelming excitement at the prospect of a new adventure and a new start in Manchester. Once I had moved, started my job and found somewhere to live the reality of the difficulty of feeling settled and making friends really began to set in. I am by nature quite a chilled out and easy going person, however found a lot of the people at work and my housemates were from Manchester and had their friendship groups, and social life, sorted a very long time ago. This often led to me being the person to initiate plans and having to make the first move of making work friends real life friends too.


When you feel like you are the one constantly asking if someone wants to go for a drink after work, or for brunch at the weekend, you can quickly become disheartened and feel like your friendship is a one way street. For the most part I don't think this was malicious or intended on other peoples behalves, but is a very real part of moving somewhere where you don't know anybody in your mid twenties. 
Another thing that I found difficult to deal with for the first few years was seeing my best friends from home doing normal friend things I would have usually been included in; spontaneous nights out, getting last minute tickets for gigs, cooking dinner with each other, celebrating good relationship/work news the same day it happens, I missed a lot of moments that can define a friendship.

Luckily I have an amazing girl gang at home who after five years of living at the other end of the country I still call my very best friends. Both I and they made the effort to keep in touch, arrange trips to see each other and go on holidays, and I wouldn't swap them for the world. On the flip side I also found other friends who I had spent years travelling to London and back to see from Hampshire, before I moved to Manchester, only made an effort to talk to me when they wanted something (i.e a bed to sleep on in Manchester). At the time I would have classed them as best friends, however the reality of moving away showed me that these friendships were very one side and while a hard lesson to learn, sorting out the wheat from the chaff was invaluable. 

If I could do my time in Manchester differently I would try my best not to worry about being the person who always arranges plans, be more sociable both inside and outside of work, and go to different networking events to meet new people. However at the time I struggled a lot with social anxiety, which is something that travelling has really beaten out of me. When you're put in the position that you either make friends or spend your entire trip alone then you quickly learn how to start a conversation. I actually think it must be impossible to not make friends travelling, I have had conversations with people in the weirdest and most wonderful of places; at petrol stations, on boat trips, in hostels, queuing for post night out food, hanging around reception when the WiFi goes out, the list is endless. 
It has also opened my eyes to the best in people, a simple hello or question can start a conversation and most people are amazingly open and friendly if you just give it a try. I have also learnt that I have more in common with a much wider range of people than I ever thought possible, whether it be a TV show, politics, a lust to travel, there is always something to talk about. I am often quite an opinionated person when it comes to certain topics, something which can be difficult when trying to make new friends. My approach to this is to take other peoples opinions on these subjects with a pinch of salt, and if I find it really jarring to just move on, such as the time the daughter of a meat farmer started lecturing me on why my life long belief that eating animals is wrong was incorrect, when all I had done was sit opposite her at a hostel table without meat on my plate. Thank you, next.

As I write this I am currently looking for jobs in London when I return from travelling, I am unbelievably excited to be starting another new chapter on my return, and to have the majority of the people I care about most within a few small hours travel. I know there will also be lots of new people to meet, friendships with people I have made travelling to follow up, and friends of friends to hang out with too. The one thing I will take with me from my experiences in Manchester and travelling is the knowledge that there's one small word that can start something amazing: Hello. 
After Thought: Immediately after finishing writing this blog post a girl came over to me at my hostel and said she liked one of my tattoos. We got chatting and are now going out for the evening together, hopefully a new friend in the making from something so simple and a spectacularly well timed example of how being open and willing can lead to something great. 
Thanks to Kim for giving me the idea to write this post. 

Photographs taken at Finns, Canggu, Bali.