It is human nature to take comfort from the familiar, but we also take great pleasure from exploring new opportunities and embarking upon exciting new journeys. One of the best ways to balance these two desires when you have started a new life abroad is to track down local expats who will make you feel more comfortable and more at home in your unfamiliar surroundings.
Sometimes your workplace can be a good place to look, and this is a good starting point for many people who have moved to a new country. But there are lots of other methods of tracking down expats in a similar position to yourself who may be more than willing to help you adapt to your surroundings.
Whether you are travelling solo or embracing family expat life, at ExpatRoute we want to help you find your feet and meet local expats who will help you adapt to your new surroundings. We have put together a list of nine ways in which you can track down local expats who can help you fully integrate into your new home.
1) Explore your place of work
Whether your workplace is exclusively British or simply includes a number of expats working with locals in an overseas office, there is a good chance that you are not alone. Try to get to know anyone in your department who is in a similar position, or ask your colleagues whether they know of any other expats working within the company. Expats with the same workplace often find it easy to identify common ground, so these people could be ideal to connect with when you are attempting to embrace your new life abroad.
2) Hang out at expat bars
No matter where you are in the world, you are never too far away from an English-speaking bar or expat hangout. Sometimes these bars are run by English-speaking locals who want to help expats find their feet. However, more often than not they are run by other expats who have already had success integrating into the local community. Not only does this mean they are a draw for other expats, but they can often be the source of familiar food or drink from home that may otherwise be lacking in your new home.
3) Track down expats via your children
While moving abroad with young ones can always be a worry for parents, children often manage to integrate much more effectively than their parents. This is particularly common when children are attending a local expat school or an international school where many of the families have moved from overseas. If your children are managing to meet new people, take the opportunity to get to know the parents of their new English-speaking friends who are likely to be in the same boat as you and may even be able to impart some local knowledge.
4) Locate expat groups
Many areas, whether large or small, will have an expat group that meets up on a regular basis. These meetups can be particularly invaluable for those in quieter parts of the world where natural communication with other expats may be scarce. Expat groups are also often a good place to meet local people who are already friends with expats, many of whom are happy to provide guidance and advice on local culture.
5) Embrace your expat community
Larger towns and cities commonly have areas that are favoured by expats, and these can rapidly grow into established expat communities. Such communities can act as a hub for foreigners who are hoping to meet up with and live around fellow expats so they can feel more at ease after leaving the UK. These communities will often feature meetup points such as expat bars, expat-run restaurants and other facilities where foreigners are welcomed with open arms.
6) Discover English-speaking clubs
Whether you live in the heart of an expat community or find yourself living in the midst of a large city where expats are few and far between, there are often English-speaking clubs available to join. Take some time to research the local clubs and groups that surround you to see if there is something that takes your fancy. It could be that you want to track down an English choir, a gym with multi-lingual fitness classes or perhaps even a club that shows English films. No matter what your hobby of choice, there is sure to be something on offer that will make you feel more at home.
7) Take up a language course
As an expat in a new country, it is likely that you will need to brush up on your language skills, and you are not alone. Many expats invest their time and money in making themselves more familiar with the mother tongue of the local people. This makes language classes or courses the ideal place for meeting other expats who are in a similar position to yourself. If possible, try to sign up to more interactive classes where you will have a chance to communicate directly with other members of the group, which will give you the chance to break the ice. Some courses will even include trips to local landmarks or nearby cities, which can be an ideal opportunity to get to know the other expats who are taking the same class.
8) Check with your former college or university
It is possible that there are people from your college or university who have already embarked upon the same journey as yourself. While you may not have met during your time in higher education, it is often the case that people from the same background are more willing to help each other where they can. You may even be able to find a post-graduate club based in the country you are moving to, which could give you the perfect opportunity to access a reliable expat network local to your new home. If your alumni network is in another town or city, don’t be afraid to travel. While it may not aid your familiarity with your immediate area, it can help you gain acquaintances or even friends within the same country and could result in you relocating to an even more suitable area in the future.
9) Join a sports team
While a local sports team won’t necessarily be a draw for expats, there are many towns and cities that will run sports clubs and teams for English sports. These are often a much more attractive prospect for expats compared to locals, with the former seeking out a familiar sport that will make them feel more at home. Get in touch with your local leisure centres or sports facilities to find out what clubs they offer and discover whether there are any sports groups that are happy to welcome UK nationals in search of similar people.
10) Don’t forget social networking
It may not feel like the most obvious means of meeting up with local expats, but online social networking can be an excellent way to locate any opportunities for expat interaction that may be taking place near your new home. Not only that, expat groups can also provide you with easy access to a reputable information source as many expat forums will encourage all those living nearby to share their experiences and local knowledge.
Remember to keep going
No matter what method of meeting new people is best suited to you, it is important to remember that you won’t succeed without putting in some time and energy. Whenever possible, make time to explore new opportunities so you can make as many acquaintances as you can in your new environment.