13 Tips to Make Friends While Teaching English Abroad

Heading overseas to teach English as a foreign language? Here are 13 tips to make friends while you're there - no matter how shy you are!

It might be a cliche, but a smile really does go a long way to starting new conversations and friendships!

1. Get Yourself Out There

Go to local events, such as concerts and festivals; they're great places to meet new people.

2. Find Your ‘Local’

The more you go to one place, the more the locals will start to chat to you and you’ll soon become part of the fixtures and fittings.

3. Never Say No to Invites

Back home, you may have been brought up to ‘not talk to strangers’, but when you go abroad everyone is a stranger – so how can you make new friends? Follow your instincts and be careful – meet new friends in public places and with colleagues if you can. Be sensible – obviously don’t go to someone’s house you’ve just met without other people you know and trust going with you!

4. Join Groups

Joining a gym, a language class, or even volunteering is a great way to make new friends.

5. Invite People to Things

Don’t be shy – invite your colleagues and friends to do things together. They will no doubt return the favour.

6. Check Out the Local House Parties!

This is a great way to meet locals and other expats (not just teachers). Some countries have them in abundance, others don’t. These are usually advertised through word of mouth, or you can check out Facebook pages and Google “expats in *country*.”

7. Smile

A smile really does go a long way! Make yourself approachable and chat to people – shop keepers, bar staff, anyone.

8. Do a Language Exchange

Learn the local language and get a friend thrown in to boot. You may then meet their friends and their friend’s friends.

9. Check Out the Expat Pamphlets

Yes, some countries do have them!

10. Make Use of Online forums

Whilst it may be a taboo in your country, many countries view this as the best way to make new friends and it’s seen as neither strange nor unusual. Try looking for Facebook groups, you never know what someone has already set up!

11. Be Open to Difference

Try not to criticise the ways of the country you are in – this won’t endear you to potential friends and may make them hesitant to continue the friendship. Remember: It’s not wrong, it’s just different!

12. Don’t Spend ALL Of Your Time With Fellow Foreigners

It’s tempting, but this will limit your opportunities to meet local people and it will make you less likely to make an effort to do so.

13. Don’t Go to Western Places ALL the Time If No Locals Go There

When in Rome, do what the Romans do!

Want to know more?

You can get your TEFL qualification or find a work placement through i-to-i’s Teach English abroad website.

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