What's the best way to meet other expats in China?

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One of my fears before moving to China back in 2006 was whether I’d make any friends. I was going alone, without knowing anyone there. I couldn’t speak a word of Chinese so it’s not like I could make friends with locals easily.

Little did I know I would meet all kinds of awesome people just by going out to the expat bars and cafes and chatting with the other Westerners who looked just as out of place as I was.

But I had to make one big change from my social habits in Florida. I went out alone. For many people this is a big taboo. Actually it’s really the BEST way to meet people who just might become your life-long friends. Going out alone when you don’t know anyone forces you out of your shell and gives you a reason to chat up new people.

Before you go out, do a bit of Googling on where the happening bars and cafes are in your city. Put on your best shirt. Order a beer and stand at the bar. Look for the guy or girl having the most fun in the bar and walk over, say hello and hand him a drink.

Probably the single best thing about living and working abroad is how open Westerners are to meeting each other. It’s as if we all become dogs who are instantly curious about one another when we pass each other on the street - minus the butt sniffing of course. Isn’t that how human interaction is supposed to be?

Some of these friends may just be drinking buddies but from there your social circle has the opportunity to bloom once you put yourself out there. And you’ll only ever eat alone if you want to.

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