SDE International - Shenzhen

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No matter where the move is to, one of the hardest parts about making a new place home is finding friends there. Of course, when the place you’re moving to is a country across the world with a different culture and language, that’s only truer. But a little perseverance and the right attitude will get you far. Of course, so will looking in the right places. So, where are the best places to find friends in China? That all depends on you, but I’ll try to list a few places you can start in this article.

Wechat Groups and Subscription Accounts

Wechat is an essential app in China: it’s Facebook, Instagram, Apple Pay, and more, all rolled into one. Part of Wechat’s structure includes subscription accounts and groups you can join. Newspapers and magazines, bars and restaurants, music venues, art galleries, and more all might have subscription accounts.

You can look up subscription accounts in your city to find out what’s going on around you, and from there go to events where you’ll meet like-minded new friends! You can also join groups for events like book clubs, clothing, swaps, bar crawls, and other meetups.

Elsewhere on the Internet

When in doubt, search it on the internet. Look up events in the city you’re living in on Bing, and you’re sure to be presented with a host of events and activities going on around you! Facebook and Reddit are also good places to look for groups of expats online. You can even connect with expats on these sites before you arrive in China to ask about the scene where you’ll be and start making friends!

Language Exchange Events

Are you trying to learn Chinese? Then a language exchange is a great idea for you! Language exchanges are great because they give you the opportunity to meet both fellow expats and Chinese people, and they also give you an opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture (and, of course, brush up on your Mandarin.)

There are all types of language exchange groups, ranging from just a few people to giant parties. You can find language exchanges with vastly different structures, as well. Some are formal, with a pre-selected topic and stricter guidelines, while others are more like informal meet-and-greets where people can come and go, meet new friends, and practice their language skills. Whether you’re a Mandarin pro or a total newbie, a study-holic or a more casual person, you’re sure to find a language exchange that’s right for you.

Your School or Recruiter

If you’re going through an agency, ask them to put you in contact with other foreign teachers before you arrive. They’ll be able to give you the lowdown on what’s going on in your city, and they could possibly be your future friends, as well! Additionally, you may arrive in China with a group of foreign teachers that you can spend time with as you get acclimated to your new surroundings.

If your school has foreign teachers already working there, they’ll also be able to show you around your city. They’ll also be a great resource for when you want to commiserate with someone after a long day of work.

Clubs and Classes

A great way to find like-minded friends is by doing an activity you enjoy together. Book club, cooking class, recreational sports, hiking – whatever you’re into, there’s probably a group of people in your city who are doing it and who can’t wait to meet you. Look up activities online, and connect with a group of people who share your interests and passions!

Last Word:

Going to a new place is hard. You likely will be lonely at first, and you may have trouble feeling comfortable in new places. However, you’ve made the leap to travel to a new country, so you’re obviously not faint of heart. Lean into discomfort, and appreciate the moments of hesitation and isolation you feel as part of the experience of living in a new part of the world.

Learning to be comfortable with situations that are nerve-wracking or scary is one of the most important things you can do in a new country, and is also an important life skill. Good luck on your embarkation!


SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

About the Author:

Molly Oberstein-Allen
Molly Oberstein-Allen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a philosophy degree and currently teaches English in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys travelling and meeting new friends.
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