How To Make Friends Living Overseas
Moving overseas is a daunting decision and there are many factors you need to consider before taking this huge and exciting leap!
A top concern many fear is leaving your friends behind and starting a new journey not knowing anyone. To solve this question for you, we asked our expert TEFL adviser, who spent 3 years teaching English in China, how to make friends.
The first point Elaine made was that she found it easier to make friends on her expat journey than she has done in the UK. Becoming an expat means you are a member of an exclusive community. Therefore, when meeting fellow expats, you automatically have a strong link/ common agenda that bonds you together.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: what! you too? I thought I was the only one” C.S.Lewis
This quote certainly applies for the expat community!
Even if you find that you are shy, or perhaps struggles to stand out in new social situations, you will find that moving to China will put you out of your comfort zone, this in turn will make you grow in so many ways that making new friends will seem like a breeze. Elaine found that she met so many new people once arriving in China that she never felt alone, once you are met at the airport you are introduced to many people, and taken to many social venues to help you settle in. just think of it like your personal tour guide!
Elaine’s top tips for making friends overseas
Meet your co-workers
The first people you are most likely to meet in China are the other staff in your school, the foreign teaching community will centre around the school, this means you will become integrated immediately and have a number of people you can turn to in the school. Arrange trips in your free time and make an effort to find similar interests, apart from having the best job in the world teaching English in China of course!
Keep up your social life
Going out is a great way to make friends, this way you can meet other teachers from different schools and grow your social network, this is also a great chance to practise any Mandarin phrases. The places to visit are those that are known and recommended by other expats with a good mix of locals too. China has a wide range of clubs, bars, music venues to choose from so you won’t be disappointed!
One great way to improve your friendship making skills in a foreign country is to get to grips with the language. Enrolling yourself on a Mandarin course could help you with this, you will also meet other foreign teachers who share this great idea! Many of the schools F&Y have vacancies in, offer once a week Mandarin classes free of charge.
This is an online network community that hold events for expats all over the world. r/China is one of the largest Reddit communities for expats in China, here you can discuss the best places to go, discuss local news, recommend and advise each other and set up events in your area.
Learn a new hobby in your spare time
Many TEFL teachers join together in their spare time to learn a new hobby relating to their cultural surroundings. Elaine, along with two fellow TEFL teachers she was sharing accommodation with, joined a local Qigong (Chinese Yoga) public class. This was a great way to meet other people including expats and locals. Elaine and her new-found Qigong friends set up a brunch club that became very popular after each class. This gave the opportunity to share funny stories among the expats and locals, often aimed at the hilarious language conundrums among them all.
These are just a few ways you can make friends in China. Ultimately, it falls down to you getting the best out of this amazing experience and truly engulfing yourself into everything China has to offer. The friends you make will more than likely become friends for life, the experiences and memories you will share will connect you for life, no matter if you end up on the opposite sides of the world, the memories of this experience last a lifetime!