Of the tens of thousands of people who head overseas every year to teach English abroad, the vast majority will have some level of anxiety about meeting new people and making new friends. The good news is that most teachers soon forget these concerns once they are immersed in their new environment. The chances are high that you will not be the only foreign teacher in your new school, apartment building, or neighborhood. As well as other teachers, you can also expect to meet friendly and welcoming people from the local community who will be more than happy to help you settle into your new home.
Will I make friends with work colleagues when teaching English abroad?
One obvious source of friendship in your new life overseas will be your place of work. The majority of teachers will find there are other foreign teachers working in the same school, many of whom are in exactly the same position. More experienced teachers will also be an invaluable source of knowledge when it comes to settling in to your new surroundings, both within the school and within the wider community.
Will I make friends with the local people?
Although your fellow expat teachers will certainly be a valuable resource on arrival and an obvious source of friendship in the longer term, don't overlook the opportunity of getting to know local people. Within the school there are likely to be many local staff members who are keen to share both their culture and their community with you.
How can I find like minded people in the local area?
A quick online search is likely to bring up a variety of expat groups, forums, and blogs related to the city or country where you are living and working. Through these you can explore all manner of activities that bring like minded people together in your area. From hiking and biking, to book clubs and wine tasting, you are sure to find something of interest that will also allow you to meet a wide variety of expats and locals.
Can I get involved in local sports groups?
Watching and participating in sports is one of the most popular ways to meet new people and settle into a new community. Wherever you are in the world there will almost certainly be local sports teams or fan groups that you can join. Football (soccer) is huge throughout much of the world, particularly South America and Europe, while baseball is equally popular in many Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea. Many countries also have a traditional sport that can offer a fascinating insight into the culture and way of life of local people.
Where do expats tend to hangout?
Wherever there are expat communities you will also find a variety of expat hangouts. Most major cities can boast at least one popular bar where expats congregate to eat and drink and watch major events such as the Super Bowl or the FIFA World Cup. Bookshops, coffee shops, and international restaurants can also be great places to make friends so ask your colleagues about popular venues in your area.
Will it help to learn the local language?
Many people teaching English overseas will consider it important to learn the local language, and this can also be a good way off making friends and contacts. In-class language courses in your local area may well attract numerous foreigners in a similar position to yourself, while helping locals with their conversational English can also lead to friendships and a greater immersion into the local community. The above are just a few of the more common ways to meet new people and make friends amongst locals and other expats during your time overseas. Wherever you find yourself in the world, don't be shy about approaching colleagues, neighbors, and other community members as you never know what fascinating adventures it might lead to.