The truth is, if you are not great at striking up new relationships with people from your own culture, it is more challenging in a new country. You are in a new culture and, now, you have a new limitation: you cannot speak perfectly.
It takes years for most people to integrate into new surroundings, even if they move to a new city in their own home country.
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Try to maximize the relationships you can have at the language level you find yourself in: every taxi ride (for males) every purchase of vegetables, every neighbor you can drop in on for tea, even though the visit will likely be awkward. Over time, these will become richer and richer interactions.
But don’t rush it or pressure yourself, particularly in Phases 1-3. Imagine yourself as a 1st grader trying to make friends with adults, 1st grade level of speech is not very advanced. You are challenging to interact with. But if you stick with it, you won’t always be.
In Phase 4, a primary task will be building a repertoire of recordings about things you want to say in order to become an interesting person. Until you reach that phase, spend as much time with someone fully committed to your growth in order to fast forward that process.
When you do feel you are ready to handle real friendships, look for common interests to explore with people. I once knew a learner here at Shababeek who saw an article in the newspaper about a Jordanian women’s rugby team. She called them up and asked if she could join. They let her! What a great community to be a part of! Groups exist that align with your interests; find them.
Often times, moms of young kids find it difficult to build relationships outside the home. Look for opportunities to set up playdates with families who have kids of a similar age. For every playdate my kids have, the moms are invited to join. We usually hang out drinking tea and eating sweets.
Rehearse and pursue
Anytime you transition to a new place, developing relationships can take time, especially if you are an introvert. Are you pursuing people? Are you a person that enjoys pursuing people? Not everyone does. If not, this may take more time for you to grow into organically.
Remember: The easier you are to know, the better you can be known. This makes deep relationships possible.
So until you get to that place, start rehearsing.
What do you want to be able to share about yourself? Practice those things and get good at saying them. What can you tell people about yourself? Can you talk about your interests, opinions, where you grew up, how you met your spouse, describe your kids, tell someone about your background and career?
As you learn Arabic, work to become someone that others will be interested in building a friendship with.