Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Make Friends In Your New Country Before You Become an Expat

I suppose expats become old hands at arriving in a country and figuring it all out. The first time sure isn't like that. It's a bit, well, daunting! Luckily, there are resources to help you!

One of the first I discovered was I loved it because it was so beautifully organized. There were stories about life abroad as an expat, lists of expat/international women's clubs, and advice about settling into specific countries from expats who live there. My friend Sher put together the advice for the Czech Republic and it's dead on!

And how do I know Sher? Through! The coolest feature on the site is called "Your Blogs." It lists country by country expat blogs in each country. There were two others listed for the Czech Republic and I became friends with both ladies (even though, I haven't even met one of them because she lives outside of Prague!). It helps though to have a blog yourself so they can get to know you as much as you get to know them.

When I was looking at other possible countries to teach English in, the country specific blog directory was really helpful. What are those blog writers writing about in their blog? All I had to do was read the Ukrainian expat blogs to see I didn't have an interest in moving there. In Kiev, they were freaking out about keeping the heat and the lights on because of continual power outages. Next country! Not going there. I need heat.

One day I looked at African blogs. In one country, the expat were worried for their physical safety and the physical safety of people in that country. Next country! Not going there. It's an incredibly powerful resource from REAL people. Are the writers having fun? Are they being exposed to new ideas? Can they afford living there? Do the locals make them feel welcome? Does the local government treat them with respect?

So take a look at The site is celebrating it's third birthday on January 16th - (Happy Birthday Expatwomen!) Even if the only traveling you are going to do is in your armchair. Your vision will expand as you take in other people's experiences in faraway places. You might even end up with a friend or two.

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