While teaching abroad, you’ll likely have a bucket list that’s full of must-see historical sites, authentic restaurants, and popular tourist attractions. Exploring with a local would make these adventures even more memorable and meaningful. So, how do you make local friends while teaching abroad?
First of all, your school may have helpful resources for foreign instructors. These might include an online chat group where teachers bounce ideas off one another, a school counselor who offers guidance to new teachers, or even a monthly school meeting to address common questions among staff members. Ask your supervisors what’s available, then be proactive with these tips.
7 Ways to make local friends when teaching abroad
Join a club
Whether you stay after school to participate in a teachers-only exercise class or meet up with the monthly book club at the library near your home, you’re sure to stir up some friendships with locals who have like-minded interests.
Meet your neighbors
If you’ve just arrived, take a moment to introduce yourself to the others in your apartment building, dorm, or neighborhood. Say hello when you see people coming and going, or if culturally appropriate in your area, knock on doors and offer homemade cookies to your new neighbors.
Sign up for a classroom TEFL course
This is a great option for new teachers, and many countries even require some kind of TEFL certification. Instead of completing a course by yourself online, consider taking an in-class TEFL course in the country that you’re interested in teaching in. This is a great way to meet like-minded people that you can befriend!
Take a class
Sometimes teaching abroad stints are paired up with graduate studies. If this fits your plans, take an extra course that nurtures a hobby and opens the door to meeting friends. Maybe it’s a foreign language lab or hands-on art class that helps you integrate into the community.
Ask students’ parents
When you have progress meetings with your students’ parents, strike up a casual conversation to break the ice or wrap up a positive meeting. They might be able to suggest places where locals hang out or invite you to join their social circle.
Grab a coffee
Almost every culture embraces public hangouts that promote relaxation and socialization. It might be a coffee shop, tea room, or smoothie cafe. Ask your school’s faculty members where people linger on the weekends or grab their morning coffee. Then, become a regular who strikes up conversations with guests and the staff.
Volunteer your time
Outside of the formal classroom setting, there are likely many locals around your age who are looking to practice their English through casual conversation. Offer to sit down with a local a few times a week for conversation practice – you may find that a friendship blooms during your chat!
There are many ways to make friends while you’re teaching abroad, you just have to look in the right places! The first step? Finding a perfect job for your teaching abroad experience! Browse our list of current job openings – you’re sure to find your ideal teaching opportunity.