Someone in the Guam subReddit asked why was it so hard for someone new to the island to make friends with locals and it got me thinking. Advice for Guam newbies usually includes make friends with locals but how does one even start when you’re new and don’t know a soul? Here are some ways I think might help someone make new friends in Guam (these suggestions apply to both women and men).
Join a Gym
But not just any gym…you don’t want to be the creep sidling up to some stranger between reps at Paradise Fitness. No, I’m talking about specialized gyms that have smaller and tighter networks.
Crossfit is probably the way to go. People who crossfit together seem willing to die by the deadlift together. My crossfit friends hang out together, eat at Boka Box together, get fit af together. Check out Unified or Custom Fitness if you want in on that. (There are loads of other crossfit boxes, just ask The Google.)
Play a Sport or Do Something Outdoorsy
One day, my boyfriend just decided to sign up for the Hilton tennis tournament. He randomly picked a team and now it’s his second year playing. He’s made a lot of new friends through the tournament but I don’t recommend this if you’re not a decent tennis player. Boyfriend also just shows up at the Hagåtña tennis courts after work and almost always gets invited to play a game.
The Guam Boonie Stompers meet every Saturday at 9AM and they lead hikes to some of Guam’s truly off the beaten path sites. The group is usually a nice mix of local and non-local participants, and I’ve always had a pleasant experience with them.
The Agana Hash House Harriers also meet every Saturday at 4PM. I’ve never gone on a hash run but I have friends who do and they all seem like nice normal people who just happen to enjoy running through the jungle and drinking beers afterward. Now that I’ve said that, I don’t know why I’ve never gone hashing.
Guam non-profits could always use a hand and Red Cross and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guam are just a couple of organizations that come to mind. If you don’t have the time to commit to long-term volunteer work, volunteer for big annual events such as the Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race, the United Airlines Guam Marathon, or the Guam International Film Festival. I feel that a lot of the same people get involved with these events so you’ll start recognizing faces (and they’ll start recognizing yours, which is kind of the point).
Guam Young Professionals hosts social mixers that are well attended. If you have a dog, you and your bud should check out the monthly social events held by Fetch Guam. Your dog makes new friends, you make new friends – everybody wins. Java Hut Coffee Shop welcomes poets and musicians to their weekly open mic nights. Even if you don’t perform, you could meet some cool artsy friends.
When it comes to meeting people in bars, in my opinion, small dives are better than big, loud, busy bars. Small dives are where people can sit alone at the bar and strike up a conversation with the bartender or other people around. Check out Kave’s, which is owned by my friends Kay and Dave. They have a nice thing going there.
Speaking of bartenders, don’t overlook the power of being nice to bartenders and bouncers. They know everyone and, if they think you’re cool, you could meet a ton of people through them. The same goes for coffee shop baristas.
Be Genuine and Respectful
So, that’s all I have for now but I think it’s a good place to start. A bit of advice before I go: the people of Guam are welcoming and hospitable, but you need to wait for an invitation to be in their lives. What I mean by this is, don’t just show up to a thing and insert yourself into someone’s space. For example, I’ve had people interrupt and try to be a part of the conversation just because they were close enough to hear what was going on. I’ve also had a guy interrupt me and my friends to ask a bunch of questions on what we thought about decolonization. Not a recommended way to make the best first impression.
Keep in mind that people from Guam are not like people in the states (or anywhere else, really). We’re different culturally and socially. I think one of the keys to making new friends here is to connect with a small group of people who get together regularly so that you can become familiar to them. Some of us might need some time to get a feel for who you are before we welcome you into our circles. Remember: you’re the one looking for friends – we already have our squads established. If you’re respectful and open to a different culture and mindset, I don’t think you’ll have any problem making friends. Sometimes it’ll happen right away, and sometimes it might take a while. Just be cool, be patient and be real.