Published 27th January 2016
Living and teaching abroad is exciting and adventurous, no doubt, but sometimes it can actually be quite lonely. If you think about it, do you have a lot of friends who are able to quit their jobs and jump on a plane to Nicaragua for 6 months? And even if you do have friends who are about to get involved in TEFL, they’re probably not interested in going to the same places as you are.
If you can’t take your friends from home with you, you’ll need to make some new friends. Easier said than done, right? We understand that sometimes it can be hard to find people who share similar interests with you, so here are our top five way to make friends while abroad.
1. Learn the language
Even learning a few words of the language of the country you’re living in will open up a whole new community to you. Locals may be wary of befriending TEFL teachers because they are never sure how long they will be around, but if you make an effort to learn their language you are more likely to open yourself up to groups that would otherwise not pay much attention to you.
2. Hang out with your colleagues
Chances are that you’ll be working with other teachers – it’s not often that you’re the only foreign teacher in a school. Of course it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get on with everyone you work with but, if they’re new like you, then you could get to know your area together or, if they’ve been there for a while, they could be a fountain of knowledge on things to do, places to go and how things work.
3. Join a social group
If you are living in a city, there are probably other ex-pats living there who are not teachers. Ex-pats can be found in most countries and they tend to stick together, no matter where they’re from. Do an online search or ask around to find out if there are events or clubs that these ex-pats have started.
Finding new friends can be a bit like dating. It takes time and effort and you never know when you might meet someone suitable. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a like-minded person at work and you’ll immediately click. If not, you might need to put yourself out there a little bit. But the same advice applies to making friends as it does to dating, don’t force it, don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t give up hope.