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Guide to making friends in Minnesota

Ask any transplant to MN and they’ll describe the roadblocks they’ve run into trying to make new friends. Or they’ll throw out the quintessential quotes: “Minnesotans will give you directions to everywhere but their house” or “You want to make friends in Minnesota? Go to Kindergarten.”

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Make sure to send your bestie a hug Bitmoji today. It’s #NationalBestFriendsDay, the unofficial holiday meant to show that one close buddy just how much they mean to you.

We did a little research (okay, a Google search) and there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason as to why National Best Friends Day lands on June 8. Or how it got started in the first place.

But the bigger question: who is your best friend? Chances are, if you’re a native Minnesotan, it’s someone you either grew up with or went to school with.

Ask any transplant and they’ll describe the roadblocks they’ve run into trying to make new friends. Or they’ll throw out the quintessential quotes: “Minnesotans will give you directions to everywhere but their house” or “You want to make friends in Minnesota? Go to Kindergarten.”

But if you’re persistent, you can break through. Case and point: Maggie Fazeli Fard. Fard moved from Washington, D.C. to Minneapolis in 2013 and lived to tell her tale of transplant survival.

"The main thing that I got is that was going to be really hard to make friends. I would show up and nobody would want to talk to me. People would be perfectly nice and very polite, but not at all friendly and welcoming," Fard says.

Fard, a writer for Experience Life magazine, quickly recognized there are five key elements to making new friends in Minnesota:

  • Find the people. Don’t expect Minnesotans to come to you. Linger longer at the office, join a gym or volunteer.
  • Make the first move. It can be hard to muster up the courage, especially for the shy and introverted, but push yourself. And if you do fall into those categories, there’s help from groups like Meetup.com, Minnesota Nice Breakers and Break the Bubble. Founded by University of Minnesota students a few years ago, Break the Bubble holds events at bars, where people ask each other icebreaker questions. The best part: most of these events are free. Mariano Garcia, who organizes these events, says there are opportunities everywhere: block parties, beer tastings, running groups, churches.
  • Tell, don’t ask. Don’t use the open-ended suggestion, “Let’s hang out sometime.” Demand it. Instead use, “Let’s grab a drink.” Be the party planner, the happy hour coordinator, the brunch promoter.
  • Seriously, be aggressive. Grab a potential Minnesota friend’s phone and put in your digits. As Shia LaBeouf would say, “just do it!”
  • Be shocked when locals reach out. As Fard described in her viral Star Tribune op-ed, “The more I used my zealous tactics, the more open I became. And the more open I became, the more people I attracted.”

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