There are days when I start to think I need to take a break from the Internet. Isn’t all that screen time holding me back from getting out there and making connections with people in the place where I live? You might think that—and I often do—until you realize how much potential there is to find like-minded folks online, people who can brighten the reality of your new home both off-screen and on. When you move to a new city meeting people who share your interests is hard. But when that new city is in a foreign country, and the challenge includes finding other native speakers of your language, it becomes even harder. Enter the Internet.
The go-to website for meeting other English-speaking expats in Germany is Toytown. This forum advertises jobs, meet ups, and news, as well as providing a forum for expats to find each other, ask questions, and help out when someone new in town doesn’t understand the local customs. There are articles on topics ranging from “Steps to Live in Germany – After the US Military” to “What Is in our Beer?” Each major city has its own category.
As Toytown says of itself: “Toytown Germany, known as TT for short, collects information about local bars and restaurants, events and meetups, job offers, housing, cinemas, taxes, and pretty much everything to do with moving to Germany and living here. The heart of the site is the discussion forum where English speakers can share news, ask questions, post answers, make advertisements, organise sports and social events, discuss current affairs, make friends, and generally engage with each other.”
I personally have never used Toytown as I don’t particularly like forums. But almost every other English-speaking expat I know is on there and has found it useful for a wide variety of issues. Even if it turns out to not be your space, it is worth a look, particularly when you have first arrived in Germany.
For expat parents in Germany, a resource that I have found helpful is ExpatBabies. This website lists meet ups and resources for English-speakers, as well as offering forums, shopping tips, and a market place for selling used kids items.
Reading expat blogs can also be comforting. The writers are people who are either have gone through—or are currently going through—the same culture shock issues that you are. Some of my favorite active expat Germany bloggers are Geek Mädel and Der Irische Berliner, though there literarly are hundreds of them out there, waiting to be found.
Last but certainly not least, there is facebook. Almost every German city has a “English Speakers in Your City Name Here” facebook group where you can find other English-speakers living in your area or ask questions. If you search more specifically, you will also often find groups in your area dedicated to specific interests, sometimes even in English.
nothing for you? don’t give up!
Sometimes you will find connections in the most unlikely places. For example, this morning I was browsing a facebook group I’m a member of when I noticed that one poster had mentioned being just 30 minutes from France. I got excited—I had thought that all of the members of this group were in the United States. But I was wrong! I wrote to her and it turned out that we had a ton of stuff in common and only live a few hours away from each other. It turns out that all that time on the Internet can pay off in real life after all.
Have you had any luck using internet resources to meet people after a move? Share your stories!