Fostering lifelong friendships

Fostering lifelong friendships

by Frances Salas
Stripes Europe

Moving to Europe was only the beginning of our adventure when my husband and I arrived. Transferring from our last base to a new unit and country was also challenge. We were embracing civilian life for the first time after his transition out of the army. Now, three years later, we have made a home, developed friendships that feel like family, and travel as much as possible. Here are tips and ideas to help you celebrate new experiences with even better friends.

Where to start

Newcomers should stop by their installation’s Force Support Squadron or Morale, Welfare and Recreation office or website and see what programs are located at each base/post. Whether you want to find outdoor activities, playgroups for the kids, sports, sewing, motorcycle or car clubs, or even take a language or fitness class, there is something for everyone and a great place to meet people who share your interests. Your FSS and MWR can help.

Finding active friends

The Outdoor Recreation Center has many sports clubs and physically challenging trips available. Their trips are some of the seasons’ best. Then, when you feel comfortable venturing out on your own with friends, they also have equipment for rent (or purchase) at reasonable prices. During the warm months, many form walking/running and cycling groups. There’s a group to explore in any season and you can find friends who share your passion for an active lifestyle. 

Traveling friendships

The USO offers scheduled trips with tour guides to major European cities as well as popular festivals and events. The Army Community Services (ACS) arranges local day trips that meet in a central location and teach you how to use local transportation to get to your destination. Search for the closest USO and ACS location online and through your base operator. Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) has incredible opportunities for traveling and getting involved in community events. BOSS ranges from kayaking trips to forming a team for the human foosball tournament. Your local MWR office has the latest in BOSS information.

Religious communities

For religious enrichment, fellowship and community, visit your base/post’s Religious Services office. Find a place and time for worship, be connected to bible study groups, travel opportunities and social groups. For moms with young children, you may consider Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS. This Christian- based organization connects mothers together in support, community and social opportunities for themselves and their children. Visit MOPS online to find a registered group near you.

To help enrich relationships, some religious programs offer marriage retreats with an itinerary of social time and group discussions to not only reconnect with your spouse but to meet other couples. Your Religious Services office can help you find a group and meeting time that best fits your needs.

Social Venturing

Sometimes exploring the local social scene on and off-post can bring people together. The Warrior Zone has recreational fun such as playing pool, Xbox, B.I.N.G.O. and host events. Find your favorite karaoke bar or disco dance club in the city and let your inner American Idol shine while out with friends. Many Child and Youth Services programs through FSS and MWR offer Parent’s Night Out. Your children can have time with friends while you go on a double date to a new restaurant.

Facebook has become a reliable reference guide for social groups available for whatever interests you are looking for in the local area. Check social media websites, such as Facebook, to see what groups are registered for your area.

Want to meet people on your own? There are many local clubs, pubs, and organizations that are community-based you can join. Check with your village community center for more information.

There you have it … a good start to finding new friends at your new station. Having friends to make and share memories with can only enrich this experience. No matter what your interests are, being in Europe can be one of the best times of your life.

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