Give it a try if… You would rather make one last effort to find the right people in your city than pack up and leave.
Steer clear if… You have just one more rerun of the whole “Sex and the City” to watch.
Remember the days when you were unsure about confessing your desire to make new friends, fearing people would see you as a loser? That is a secret you can now shout with pride: signing up to meet a bunch of strangers is suddenly cool, and it might just be waiting for you to join the trend.
Get a life. Get a Meetup.
Meetup has been around for a while. This platform for interest groups has followed an uneven growth pattern in the world, but it recently seems to have found fertile ground in Barcelona (as, for obvious reasons, in other cities with a high expat rate). If you are tired of exchanging views with your sofa, you will surely find one or more groups to join. From yoga to classical music, from language exchange to freesbee… or perhaps your own group, if you have the guts to expose yourself that much. There are currently over 75 groups in this city, some of which have about 2,000 members. Both a great place to start and a relieving last resort.
Odd One In
The founders’ great idea was a disruptive change of perspective: a lonely person is not a sad weirdo whom nobody wants to spend time with, it is a proactive urban soul with well-defined passions and time to invest in meeting new, interesting people. How does that sound now? Importantly, this is not another self-referential e-something digital plastic toy: meetup groups are unmistakably focused on regular real-life events, making this a welcome revenge of the offline world (yeepee!).
Although I have heard slightly mixed comments from people attending meetups in Barcelona – apparently some groups are so large they end up spreading themselves a bit too far – judging from my experience I cannot but sing the loudest praises of this new form of connection. I have been a part of only one group for a few months, and I have found a fair number of promising new acquaintances and a couple of people who can make me cry for their outstanding contribution to this planet. Having a strong common interest certainly helps, as does the shared determination to “Save yourself! Go outside! Do Something!!!”. My clearest impression so far? This is an experience from which you are likely to get at least as much as you give – so open your mind, be generous and share the love. If I have been this lucky, why should you be less so.
UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 8 out of 10.
For a different take on the subject, read a great post on how to make friends in a new city from one of my favourite blogs, The Naked Envelope.