Expat Tips: Put Yourself Out There
1. Get Active
Making your first few points of contact can be hard, so a great way to meet new people is through doing what you love. Taking a class or joining a sports group will introduce you to like-minded individuals. Sharing a hobby will mean that you have more than just small talk to connect over.
If you are new to a sport don’t worry, everyone’s a beginner at some point. Take this opportunity to try something new: it could be a sport which you’ve been wanting to do for ages, or perhaps even the nation’s favorite.
If you are finding it nerve-racking to take the plunge and commit to the first class, roping in a partner or work colleague will make things much easier. If you are going by yourself, don’t be nervous; as soon as the activity starts, you’ll have so much fun that all your thoughts and fears will seamlessly wash away.
2. Learn a New Skill
After you’ve finally finished unpacking and established yourself in your new surroundings, it is easy to get comfortable and wind up spending your free time at home, perched in front of the television. Although relaxing, being shut off from the world gets old fast. Take this free time to go out and release your inner creativity: learn to salsa dance like you’ve always wanted to, join that choir, or venture into the unknown world of pottery.
3. Volunteer in Your Local Community
When it comes to volunteer work, there’s something for everyone. Not only is it a great way to meet people within your local community, but you also help make the world a better place.
Since there is a countless number of opportunities available, from fundraising events to trying your hand at gardening, the internet is probably the best way to find out what’s going on in your local area. The website Volunteer Match is a great starting point, advertising various volunteering positions all over the globe. Alternatively, you can ask your employer if they have any ongoing volunteering projects.
Better yet, at InterNations we are proud to have the world’s largest outreach program for expats. The Changemakers program is open to all our members and is present in over 45 cities, with over 13,000 people helping out each year. To find your local group, head to the Changemakers page.
4. Find Friends through Good Food
Someone, somewhere, once said the way to a person’s heart is through delicious food, and they were right! If you are a foodie, and you are trying to put yourself out there and make some new friends, getting in the kitchen and joining a cooking class might just be the answer.
Not only would you learn how to cook your new culture’s cuisine, but you would also get to meet fellow gastronomes. An additional bonus to this is that when your friends and family from home come to visit, you will be able to wow them with your new-found talent.
5. Mingle with Your Colleagues
If you’ve moved abroad to further your career, a good way to widen your social circle is to get to know your colleagues. One way to do this is to take the time to learn about their interests and hobbies and maybe even arrange to do something together after work.
Alternatively, you could take initiative and invite your colleagues over for dinner. Cooking a traditional home dish for them is a great way of introducing them to your country’s culture. It will undoubtedly be appreciated and, better still, the offer may be returned!
6. Learn the Lingo
The language barrier can definitely get in the way of meeting new people. That’s why attending a language class in your spare time might be a good idea. There, you will also meet fellow expats, with the same language level as you.
Alternatively, you might want to seek out a tandem partner. This is a native speaker who is interested in hosting a language exchange which is usually much more relaxed and unofficial than attending language classes, and one of the advantages of it is it’s free (minus your coffee). If your tandem partner is a local too, you can ask for insider recommendations on what to do and all the best places to eat.
7. If You Haven’t Already: Join InterNations!
Without trying to blow our own trumpet, we are the biggest expat network globally. With 420 communities worldwide, we help you build a network of expats and global minds. Our Newcomers’ Events are specifically designed for people who have just moved to the area — meaning you’ll meet other expats in a similar situation to you!
Every community has an array of events and activities on offer, meaning there’s something for everyone. If you do so happen to think, however, that something special is missing, feel free to get involved and become a Consul or an Ambassador. Consuls get to share their passion for their hobby and host get-togethers and activities, which are open for all Albatross Members to attend, while Ambassadors are in charge of hosting our official events.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might not be able to meet people in person at the moment. Fortunately, many sports or language instructors have taken their classes online and it is possible to attend virtual events and get-togethers as well.
To see the rest of this ongoing video series with our resident expat expert Lauren, visit our Facebook page. There you can share your feedback with us or even ask for advice — we may just use your question as the starting point for the next video!