Friday, July 6, 2012

How to meet people in a foreign country

I was going to title this post 'how to make friends' but that would be misleading, especially considering most expats meet a ton of people but only become good friends with a handful.  I'm focusing on Germany, naturally, but I'm pretty sure this works in other countries as well.  

If you are a little shy, like me, then I suggest you grab a strong drink and get ready to suck it up.  Meeting people is impossible if you don't put yourself out there.

1. Language class- because no one will understand what a b*tch it is to learn German except other people who are trying to learn German too.  The great thing about language classes is that very few of the students are American or even native English speakers. 

2. Message boards- I love Toytown.  I used to post on there all the time when I first moved to Germany.  It works best if you live in a city.  If you live in a small town like me it probably won't help you meet people.

3. this is also a great site.  There are tons of meetups in Germany.

4. Work- I have made a lot of friends at work, specifically when I worked for Berlitz.  That was because Berlitz had a central office and there were always other teachers around.  When I started working for the higher paying language schools the central office disappeared and I never saw my fellow co-workers.  Most of the contact I had with these companies was over the phone or via email.

5. The English Pub- Every German city seems to have at least one Irish/English style pub where English speakers tend to gather.  When I was in Dresden it was the Jim Bean Bar and in Hamburg it's Finnegan's Wake.  They have a pub quiz (in English naturally), a big St. Patty's celebration and other fun stuff.  I'm pretty sure almost every English speaking expat in Hamburg has been to Finnegan's at some point.

6. Facebook- There are all kinds of expat groups on Facebook.  They usually have meetups and you can message individuals in your area.  Hamburg International Women's Group, International Group, and so forth.  One of my friends in Berlin goes to the Mum's and Bumps meetup.

7. On the bus/at the club/ walking down the street- ok, in all honesty, I have a very strong 'stranger-danger reflex' so if you stop me on the street because I'm speaking English on the phone or to my dog I'll probably think you're weird and run away but this has worked for other people I know.  To each his own, I guess.

8. Husbands/boyfriends- I meet people through my husband and his friends pretty frequently. 

Alrightly, that's my list.  If you think I missed anything let me know.