How to make friends in Cape Town
You land in Cape Town and after picking up your luggage you’re ready to start your new life. So exciting! The only problem is that you don’t know anyone yet. How to make friends in the Mother City? I’ll speak from experience!
Cape Town is famous for being cliquey. The locals are not really interested in meeting new people and tend to stick to their well-established groups of friends often still from school. At a house party (to which it’s difficult to get an invite) they’ll show you superficial interest and quickly drift away to more familiar faces. They may ask you a few questions about you and your country and tell you that it’s all divine, lovely and lekker (depending who you speak to) but that’s about it. You may receive a Facebook request or a suggestion that you should totally hang out but unfortunately follow ups are rare and if you try you may not even receive a reply. Of course things are a bit different when you’re an attractive woman but we’re talking about making friends here so the not so innocent interest from the opposite sex’s side isn’t really helpful (you can read about my experience with that as an Eastern European on my other blog). I didn’t know any better, though, so my first attempt at friendships in CT was via my ex boyfriend who showed A LOT of interest in me at my first house party. I was constantly busy for a while but the people I met through him disappeared from my life as soon as the relationship finished and you can’t blame them as they were friends with my ex first.
Work of course can be a good place to meet people but I’m quite wary of that. Remember the craziest friend you’ve ever had whom you had a bad fight with… Now imagine it could be something you had to deal with at work EVERY DAY. It’s good to stay friendly with people at work but one must be very careful before they decide that they should let a colleague in their private lives.
Of course you can use your acquaintances and attend ALL events you are invited to but I had little success at making friends that way. If you appear in certain company often enough you are tolerated but not much more than that. Afrikaans people in particular are quite alienating as they keep switching to their language. The one answer to survive outings with them is to drink and to drink hard. Eventually you’ll get your social calendar busy but you must remember they’re not really your friends. Forget also trying to meet people at festivals and concerts. Yet again, it’s a good way to find a hook-up but not friends.
What remains then? Interests in common and other similarities. These qualities are something we value in friends the most. Why not to use the good old Internet to help us with our mission? For expats there’s InterNations. Meet people in similar situations, listen do their often fascinating life stories, swap business cards. InterNations is a great place to find people you may hit it off with. Eventually, the events get slightly tedious and the turnover of people is big as they often don’t stay around for too long. Take the best of it but don’t get trapped. Even better than InterNations is Meet Up which hosts various groups of people with very diverse interests. If you love hiking and don’t know anyone it’s a great way to both follow your passion and meet like minded individuals. There’s probably a meet up for all sorts of needs so it’s definitely something to check out if you’re on a friendship lookout. It has a big advantage over regular book clubs or running clubs as people by joining state that they want to meet others rather than just do what they’re interested in. Last but not least, become a “yes” person. People you like are quite likely to know more people you’ll like so let others drag you along to places. Eventually, you’ll have more friends that you want to deal with 😉
To sum up, Cape Town unfortunately can be very alienating at first but there are tools which can help you bypass the “cliqueiness”. Don’t worry too much about people who are not interested in others and rather judgmental, it says more about them than about you.