One of the biggest social dilemmas that many of us will face as adults is figuring out how to break the ice. When you're a child, making friends is as easy as making Play-Doh sculptures with your friends at recess but, as an adult, things are far more difficult. Instead of trading jokes on the playground and building formidable towers with your newfound pals in the sandpit, you're suddenly forced to acclimatize to social mores and so-called acceptable conversation topics. Perhaps this is why Brits spend so much time talking about the weather; finding other things to talk about just seems like hard work.
The issue is exacerbated in a group of people from different countries who all have different cultures and therefore different senses of humor and bonding methods. According to a report published in 2016 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourists hit 1.2 billion in 2015, which set a new record. As such, it's quite likely that you'll find yourself in a group full of friendly, internationally-traveling faces at some point soon.
But rather than subject them to inane conversations about the weather forecast, why not do something actually entertaining? Here are some ways that people from different countries can bond.
Go to a Karaoke Bar
Social conventions may be different the world over but celebrating music together in a group is perhaps one of the only universally enjoyed activities. What screams entertainment more than someone yodeling along to Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler at the top of their lungs? Nothing, that's what.
Time Out's list of the best karaoke songs includes internationally renowned hits such as Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye (which may be perfect if you're looking for the comedic effect), chart-topping ballad I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys (trying to harmonize can also help you bond), and Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (providing excellent opportunities to headbang). The beauty of karaoke is that because most people aren't good at it at all, it completely takes the pressure off. You'll be able to learn more about your new friends' musical influences, the songs they grew up with and maybe even poke fun at their atrocious taste in music. And, above all else, you may get a few hearty laughs out of the experience.
Play Card Games
The problem with a lot of team-building exercises such as marshmallow spaghetti tower (build a tower out of spaghetti and balance a marshmallow on top) and the egg drop (build a vessel that will protect an egg as it's being dropped) is that they can be difficult to understand. They're also more suited for problem-solving and fostering better attitudes in the workplace than having fun. Card games, on the other hand, are another universally enjoyed experience. The first card game dates back to the 9th century, meaning that the concept of suits, hands and the dreaded Pick Up 52 has had plenty of time to travel around the world.
With that said, you're going to want to think carefully about the sorts of card games you choose to play, selecting the most popular options as not to avoid confusion. Blackjack (also called 21) is one such choice. Not only does the game of blackjack date back to the 17th century but it quickly went globetrotting, being picked up by players in Italy, Spain, and France. With blackjack made more popular by gaming sites like Betway, which carries online tables, it's quite likely that your international buddies will have played it either online or off. Rummy is another strong pick, as players can form sets and sequences of cards. Plus, even if there are card games you don't know, you can bond by discussing the popular card games of your home countries and the other places you've traveled to!
Trade Funny Phrases and Traditions
One of the best parts about befriending someone from another country is poking fun at your own country's culture. For example, Britain is known for its conversations about the weather, the number of queues, and its everlasting love of tea. Meanwhile, Canada is known for being polite, loving maple syrup and for being a nation of ice hockey enthusiasts. These only add to the charm and they make for an excellent story as you're trying to make new friends.
There are also plenty of funny phrases and longstanding traditions that have remained for years. Buzzfeed's list of bizarre national customs includes congratulating the entire family on someone's birthday in the Netherlands, the United States' weather-forecasting groundhogs, Austria's competitive finger-pulling tournaments and Finland's competitive wife-carrying. The Buzzfeed list is somehow just the tip of the iceberg and, the more countries represented in your international friend group, the more incredible cultures you'll get to learn about.
Making friends as an adult can seem like a daunting prospect but it really doesn't have to be. Despite our different origins, you may be surprised with how many similarities you share with people from different countries. From karaoke to card games, we hope this list provides you with a fun-filled group activity.