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How To Meet Other English Speakers While Teaching Abroad

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Getting a job teaching aboard can be a life-affirming experience. You’ll learn about a new culture. You’ll be appreciated for your hard work. And you’ll make friends with the locals.

But the truth is that at some point, you’ll also feel lonely. No matter how great your students and colleagues are, sometimes you’ll want to talk to people who understand what it’s like to be an English speaker in a foreign country. You’ll want to complain about the differences and share your experiences with someone like yourself.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you find ways to meet fellow English speakers when you are teaching abroad. They will help ground you and support you. And they’ll often be able to offer you valuable advice from their own experiences as a stranger in a strange land.  

Here are some of the best ways to make Anglophone friends so you don’t feel too isolated:

•    Find the local English language bookshop. Nearly every city has at least one shop that sells English language books, and they almost all let you hang out and read after you’ve made your purchase. Grabbing a book and kicking back is an excellent way to meet people. At some point you’ll overhear someone asking a question you know the answer to – giving them a bit of help can be the start of a great friendship.

•    Go to a local language exchange program. This will feel a bit like your job, but is also helpful. Language exchanges tend to take place in local coffee shops. People turn up and get into groups. One person speaks the local language, the other speaks in their language. You are bound to find other English speakers trying to learn the native tongue.

•    Find an English speaking bar. Bars run by people who are native English speakers are popular all over the world. Generally they are run by Irish or British people, though you’ll find a few American-run bars. People go to these bars specifically to meet other English speakers, so you’ll have no trouble at all sparking up a conversation.

•    Find the local English speakers Facebook page. One of the first places you should look for fellow English speakers is on Facebook. Most cities and regions have several dozen of them dedicated to local expats. Sign up and join the conversation, see who seems cool, and arrange to meet up!

•    Train bar cars. If you end up taking a train somewhere, don’t just sit in your seat. Find the bar car and grab yourself a snack or drink. It will generally be filled with people talking about their trips, and you are likely to meet at least one fellow English speaker – who will probably be interested in wherever you both are going.

•    Local blogs. When people go abroad, they very often blog about their experiences. Do a Google search for English language blogs from people in your area. Make comments, and start a conversation!

•    Local Expat Clubs. Many cities have wonderful expat clubs.  Find one of them and join in the activities.

•    Outdoor Activities Groups. Many cities will have groups that meet up on the weekend to go hiking or biking or walking.  Find a group and join in.  You will get in shape and you’ll meet tons of very cool people.

•    Join Embassy List. The first thing you should do when you arrive in a new country is to let your embassy know you are there.  And, sign up for their events.  They have great parties and you'll be invited and meet lots of great people. 

This should get you started! And if you have found your own ways to meet local English speakers, let us know by sharing your story!

 

 

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Go to church!!

Overseas, there are generally three types of churches.

1) the local congregation

2) the "missionary church," usually helmed by an American or a Brit and generally very evangelistic in its aim

3) the Expat church -- has a full English language congregation and probably separate a local-language congregation. Some of these will be tied to a Western denomination, but many are looser and call themselves "The International Fellowship of ___." 

------------

Why go if you have no desire to participate in their faith?

You'll meet people!

You'll meet people who are, at least for an hour or so, looking for an English experience. 

You'll probably find that there are two Christian schools in your area, one dogmatic[teachers sign a Statement of Faith and have behavioral expectations] and one much less so [values/ morals are generally a foundation].

You'll find out where the Other English-language groups and communities are.

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