Celebrating Thirteen Years of InterNations This September

With summer nearing its end for our communities in the Northern Hemisphere, the news that InterNations is celebrating its 13th birthday has given everyone a reason to keep smiling. From salsa classes to taking part in clean-up projects, let’s take a look at what our communities have been up to over the past month.

Time for Celebration!

InterNations’ birthday party will be a bit different from what we usually do. While some communities have been able to celebrate in person, others have done so online, catching up with friends to reflect on their experiences of the past year.

On Friday, 11 September, members in Kobe met up to raise a glass to InterNations at the iznt Bar. Accompanied by a live band, members enjoyed chatting to one another in a great venue. The real star of the evening, however, was the beautiful cake that was brought out to mark the occasion. We hope you saved a slice for the rest of us! We would like to say a huge thank you to Kobe Ambassador Keiko K for organizing such a great night.

Over in Jakarta, members took to the floor of Tucano’s Brazilian BBQ on Friday, 11 September, to celebrate the anniversary. An expert Salsa instructor talked the group through the basics of Salsa at a safe social distance. The rest of the night was filled with Brazilian delicacies, such as Churros and Churrasco, and saw our members making the most of the great music, atmosphere, and the opportunity to show off their new moves. Thank you to Ambassador Arthur Gaslim for putting together this fantastic anniversary celebration. 

While some of our members headed onto the dance floor, our community in Helsinki chose instead to hit the waves, as they were welcomed aboard the Ravintola Båt for their anniversary celebration on Thursday, 10 September. Just off the shore of Hietalahdenrata, members dug into their InterNations birthday cake in style, with the boat decorated especially for the occasion. We are sure that this evening was as good as it looked and would like to thank Ambassadors Polina Stepanova, Toleen Ibrahim, Valbona F, Susana Estévez and Tanja Forcythe-Reid for arranging it!

Partying Online

Our InterNations Communities, including that in Dubai, have shown how to the most of the opportunities for celebrations online. Our UAE Online Ambassador, Cristina Caringal, wants to make sure that no one misses out on the InterNations anniversary party in Dubai on Wednesday, 16 September. With a quiz room where the highest scorers can win a Friday brunch, and a photo booth room in which the best dressers and posers can score day passes to a beach resort, this event is certainly worth showing up to. It is also a great way for newcomers in Dubai to learn more about their city, with detailed information provided by members who have been there for longer and are looking to share the love.

In Hanoi, too, Ambassadors Long Dinh and Iris T. D hosted a great online anniversary party on Saturday, 12 September. All members were encouraged to dress up in InterNations colors for an afternoon of socializing and discussing favorite memories being part of this international community.

More to Come

Over the next few weeks, even more communities across the globe will celebrate 13 years of InterNations.

On Saturday, 19 September, members of the Atlanta Community will meet on Zoom for an evening of following cocktail/ mocktail recipes together as they play celebrity trivia games. With the chance to win some great prizes, this sounds like the perfect way to start your weekend right!

Ambassadors in the Taipei Community have chosen the beautiful URBAN331 bar in the Madison Taipei Hotel as the location for their anniversary celebrations. With wine, cocktails, beer, and a whole range of non-alcoholic beverages on offer in this stylish venue, we are certain that this official event will be a lot of fun.

Over in Beijing, expats and global minds will celebrate 13 years of InterNations at the 5 House Terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel. The dress code for the party is white and blue — an homage to our brand colors.

In addition to the events mentioned above, as well as many others, we are also hosting five main stage events that you’ll be able to access from all over the world as part of our InterNations Live! festival. For more information about these events, check out this article on the InterNations Live! September Festival Line-Up.

Clean-Up Week

One of our InterNations Live! main stage events will also give you the opportunity to learn more about our Changemakers, and a guest speaker will talk about sustainability and World Cleanup Day. If you want to go the extra mile in giving something back to your community, you can get involved yourself: we are hosting the InterNations Cleanup Week from 19 to 24 September 2020. Many of our communities, such as the Changemakers in Amsterdam, have already organized to take part in the global effort to keep their streets clean. The group in Düsseldorf even got a headstart, hosting a Covid-Proof Rhine Clean-Up on 12 September.

Why not get involved yourself? The simple act of joining others to pick up trash in your local area can do a great deal of good, and it also allows you to meet other members of your community. A win-win situation if ever we saw one!

Be sure to check out the events calendar to see what’s going on in your own community — or worldwide, virtually — over the next few weeks!

A Glimpse of the New Normal and the Sun: August at InterNations

From waking up with an early-morning Zumba session in Riyadh to watching the sun set over the River Rhine from Düsseldorf, our members in the Northern Hemisphere have been finding ways to enjoy the summer season, while winter is in full swing in the South. The last month has been spent getting used to our “new normal” way of life — let’s take a look at how our communities across the globe have been making the most of it!

Bon Appétit from Our Communities!

The reopening of restaurants in many countries has been a cause for celebration not only among the foodies in our communities. On Saturday, 25 July, members in Jeddah met at the beautiful Papaya Restaurant, where they spent their lunch breaks surrounded by greenery as they caught up with one another. Thanks to our Ambassadors Farhani Dewi,  Christophe Beaufays, and Ghassan Fayyad for organizing this event!

The Berlin Wine and Food Tasting Group met in Diwein in the heart of the city for an Italian-style aperitivo on Thursday, 6 August. Members Peter Durante and Marco Franceschin set up this cozy wine bar as a gift to the city that brought them together, and it served as the perfect venue for the group to unwind at the end of the day over a glass of wine and a selection of food from a buffet menu. Thanks for organizing, Ivana Grujicic!

Photo credit: Jan Zamojski

Members of the Last Minute Activities Group in Düsseldorf (pictured above) took a more German approach to their after-work drinks as they sampled craft beer together on Friday, 7 August. On tap, out of bottles, international, and local, the group was able to take their pick of the one hundred craft beers that HOLY CRAFT Beer Bar has to offer. We would like to say a big thank you to our Consul Anita Visvanath for organizing this experience, which was a great way for our members to start the weekend.

Meanwhile, over in Shanghai, community newcomers and old-timers alike met up at the ZUK Bar on Friday, 7 August. Here, they were able soak up the atmosphere of this fabulous venue while trying artisanal cocktails prepared by a world-class mixologist. Thank you to our Shanghai Ambassadors Catalina Calin and Jaime D. Medina for organizing this event!

Photo credit: Jaime D. Medina

Fresh Air and Photography

For those who prefer to find their Zen in the great outdoors, the summer sun has provided many opportunities for events outside over the past month, with some even having taken place before it had fully risen! Members of the Riyadh Weekend Activity Group meet every Friday morning to get their sweat on with Zumba in the peaceful Hajr Garden, organized by Consuls Josie Sison and Michael Du Tillieul.

The Dallas Active Lifestyle Group activated their mindfulness virtually on Friday, 31 July, reminding us that a connection between mind and body can be found even with just a connection to the internet. Activity hosts Kashef Mughal and Marilyn Rojas organized an hour-long morning session to show how aerobics, stretching, and recovery can be incorporated into a wellness routine. We greatly appreciate their commitment to helping people within the community to stay healthy.

Over in The Hague, members of the La Dolce Vita Group kick-started their morning with a coffee instead. Our Consul Michael Bonté organized a trip to the Single Estate Café on a sunny Saturday morning, 8 August, so that the group could continue their quest to find the best coffee spots in town. Good coffee with good company — sounds like a great way to start the day!

Photo credit: Michael Bonté

The first week in August brought beautiful weather to Düsseldorf, too, and members of the Duesseldorf Explore the City Group decided to take advantage of this with a trip to the Stadtstrand on Thursday, 6 August. They came with their blankets and beverages to the banks of the Rhine, where they soaked up the evening sun. With food trucks and deck chairs on hand, the group chose a great spot to hang out as they waited for the sunset. We would like to offer our thanks to Kummi Oh for hosting the activity!

Members of the Doha Photography Group were also eager to make the most of the summer sunset. They gathered in MIA Park on Friday, 7 July, and used this unique vantage point to take some truly breathtaking photos, some of which can be seen below. With the help of a Zoom call, they ensured that even group members who were unable to join them in person did not miss out on this incredible opportunity, which was organized by our Ambassador Angie Libradilla.

Photo credit: Angie Libradilla

Keep the Good Times Coming! Virtual and In-Person Events to Look Forward To

As we look forward to the next month, we see that our communities across the world are finding safe, exciting ways to spend quality time with friends and fellow global minds.

For those who missed out on the Doha Photography Group’s sunset trip, and for those who just can’t get enough of snapping that beautiful scenery, the group will meet for a beach photoshoot on Friday, 21 August. With a bonfire planned for later in the evening, this promises to be another brilliant opportunity for both experienced photographers and complete newbies alike. Thank you again to Angie Libradilla as well as Consuls Shan Vazhavila and Rahat Latif for giving everyone a motive to get their creative juices flowing!

Over the past few months, we have also seen how the internet is capable of transporting us across the globe and providing us with opportunities in communities that would otherwise feel very far away from our own. We wholeheartedly encourage to make the most of this in the coming weeks.

Why not, for example, join the Pune Changemakers Group, and award-winning watercolorist Supriti Shiwam, for an online art class on Saturday, 22 August? This event will explore how art can be used as a tool for lifting spirits and sparking positivity, all within an hour-long, family-friendly session meant for everyone, regardless of artistic ability.

If you’re looking instead to bolster your cooking repertoire, you could spend your Friday evening meeting other people as you learn to make a Himalayan curry with the Cologne Asean Culture and Cuisine Group — the perfect way to satisfy your social, as well as nutritional needs.

Remember to check out the events calendar to see what’s going on in your own community — or worldwide, virtually — over the next few weeks! From a jazz night in the heart of Vienna to taking a walk through a fairytale in the forests outside of Prague, we are certain that you will find an event that is perfect for you, and meet some amazing people along the way!

Next month, we will also be celebrating InterNations’ 13th Anniversary with our very first global online festival called InterNations Live. Join exciting online events with members from all over the world and help us celebrate our vibrant community!

Join the Fun Outdoors — InterNations Summer Events

Summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere and even though some of our communities still have to stick to social-distancing measures, many have resumed in-person events just in time to hold their events and activities outdoors. From picnics and walks around town to InterNations Official Events in glamorous venues, here are this month’s highlights.

Sand and Picnic Blankets: Enjoying Summer Outside

On Thursday, 9 July, InterNations Quebec organized a relaxed, potluck-style picnic in Victoria Park. The members brought food and drinks that were typical to their home country and shared their dishes with everyone. It was also a great occasion to talk about the future and to say goodbye to their Ambassador Ombeline, who will be leaving the country soon. Thank you, Ombeline Desvignes, for your excellent work and dedication to the Quebec Community!

More picnics are planned in our Canadian Communities: InterNations Victoria is meeting at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific on Friday, 24 July, for a picnic in the gardens. Get ready for music performances, artisanal goods, unique gifts, and plants for sale — while enjoying the great company of other expats and global minds. Thanks to Victoria Ambassador Mario Milat, we’re off to a great start of the season!

On Saturday, 27 June, the Dublin Health, Sports and Outdoors Group went for a walk around the Irishtown Nature Reserve and visited the Poolbeg Lighthouse. Although it wasn’t the best weather — the sun only rarely broke through the clouds that day — group members enjoyed the lovely walk along the beach. And they ended the day relaxing with a coffee in the quaint Sandymount village. Thank you, Noeleen OConnor, for organizing a wonderful outing!

Back to a New Normal: The Return of Official In-Person Events

InterNations Athens also welcomed summer with their official event on Thursday, 16 July. With an exclusive outdoor area reserved just for InterNations and a great view of the Acropolis and Kerameikos plaza, the event promised to be a big success. Many thanks to Athens Ambassador Nikos Souras for organizing this special event.

The motto in Guangzhou was Summer in Ibiza as our community there finally got ready to host in-person events again and bring people together — beyond just seeing one another online. Members donned their favorite summer outfits and enjoyed delicious Spanish wine, sangria, and tapas while dancing along to some lively music. Thank you, Gisèle JI, for organizing this magical night.

The InterNations Edmonton Ambassadors wanted to give all their members the opportunity to meet in person while also sticking to local safety regulations. This is why they are not only hosting one but two official events in July, marking the return to a new normal. The first event took place on Saturday, 18 July, and the second one will be held on Saturday, 25 July. Join fellow members at a relaxed pub, share some stories, and get ready to mingle once again! A big thank-you goes out to Edmonton Ambassador Zeev Shaposhnik for organizing both events.

10 Stories to Celebrate InterNational Friendship Day

InterNations, the world’s largest expat community, celebrates international friendship day with stories of intercultural bonds, and shares fresh insight from the new Expat Insider 2020 survey. 

Munich, 23 July 2020 — Making new friends gets more and more challenging as an adult. It can be especially hard for those who live abroad or return home after spending years in another country. But it is not impossible! For this year’s International Day of Friendship (30 July), InterNations shares various stories of international friendships and intercultural relationships around the world. 
The International Day of Friendship does not only focus on the relationships between individuals but also on the relations between countries and cultures. It stands for peaceful and friendly interactions, as well as non-violence among all people and nations. “We consider this day a great opportunity to celebrate the friendships among expats,” explains InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck. “As an international community with members from all around the world, but also as a company with team members representing more than 40 different nationalities, we strongly believe in the power of bringing people together.” 
To highlight both international friendships and intercultural relationships, InterNations will celebrate InterNational Friendship Week from 27 July to 2 August 2020. During the week, they will share the so far unpublished results regarding the topic of friendship from the new Expat Insider 2020 survey. Additionally, some of their members worldwide tell their most touching stories about international friendships — from moving abroad during a pandemic to relocating without knowing a soul in their destination to connecting people from all over the world in their own hometown.  

Overview of the Stories 

• The Iranian expat Dana moved from Kuwait to Australia without knowing anyone. Today, she describes her friends Jon and Steven as “the family I don’t have abroad”Page 2

• Lidia, an Italian expat living in Vienna, shares how she got through self-isolation during thelockdown and how her international friends still made her birthday special. Page 2

• Sanjeev experienced reverse culture shock when he returned from Austria to London. Hestruggled to settle in again until he met David, who changed his life. Page 3

• Mark, a British expat in the USA, had just come to the UK to sort out his permanent move.When the lockdown forced him to stay, he started to volunteer in London. Page 3

• Although Adriana and Paulo met years ago at an expat event and live in different cities now, they are still in touch more frequently “than some friends living in the same city”. Page 4

• The Russian globetrotter Janie visited and made friends in nearly every country in the world. Due to Covid-19, she is forced to stay in Australia, writing a book about her journeys. Page 4

• Beatrix from Germany cherishes international friendships and is also in a happy interculturalrelationship. Attending expat events has paid off for her in multiple ways. Page 4

• Christel and Ilonka are two German expats living in the UK. Together they organize all kindsof activities for expats in their city to “enrich our circle of friends”Page 5

• During her sabbatical in GermanyDora from Brazil did not only make new friends but also met Stefan, who is now her partner. Her temporary stay became permanent. Page 5

• Jen and Gene, two expats from the UK and Canada who live in the Netherlands, becameclose friends right away — just in time to support each other during the Covid-19 lockdown. Page 6

Dana: “These guys are the family I do not have abroad.”

In 2016, Dana moved from Kuwait to Australia to find a place that is “safe and beautiful”, as she puts it. “I admit that not knowing a soul in a city as big as Sydney was overwhelming at times,” Dana remembers. “Finally, one day I decided to go to an expat event — and I am so glad I did.” Dana met Jonand Steven, both expats from the United Kingdom, at her first event hosted by the InterNations Sydney Community, and they quickly became close friends.

‘’I consider myself very lucky to have met them,” Dana says and adds: “Since that night, I have had so many wonderful experiences and discovered this beautiful city. These guys are the family I do not have in Australia.” She will be “forever grateful” for their kindness and all the wonderful memories they havecreated together. “I think international friendships enrich your life in so many ways. They teach us about our similarities, as well as our unique ways of being different,” Dana says.

Lidia: “Suddenly I heard the doorbell and saw my friend.”

Italian expat Lidia moved to Vienna in 2010 for her research in geology. Today, she works at a Viennese museum and as a guest lecturer at a local university. Over the past decade, Austria has become her new home: ‘’I have lived in Austria long enough to feel more at home here than in my country of origin,” Lidia explainsTherefore, she did not even consider moving backwhen Covid-19 broke out.

During lockdown, Lidia expected to celebrate her 40th birthday alone, with no family members, friends, or roommates present. However, she received a lovely present from two German friends in Vienna: ‘’Suddenly I heard the doorbell and saw my friend  wearing a mask and keeping her distance  who brought me a present and wished me happy birthday.’’ On top of that, another friend from Italy, alsoliving on their own in Vienna, sent Lidia chocolate through a delivery service, which was very ‘’sweet and a nice surprise’’. From an Austrian friend, Lidia also received a special delivery, and she explainshow touched she felt that ‘’he remembered my birthday and sent me these beautiful flowers’’.

Sanjeev: ” My life feels more fun and colorful.”

Having lived in Austria for four years, Sanjeev experienced reverse culture shock when moving back to London in 2014. Some of his old friends had moved away, and Sanjeev had to face the fact that “being away for years, you will lose touch with people”.

Luckily, he met David at a picnic event for expats, shortly after moving back to London, and they got along right away. David welcomed Sanjeev with open arms, inviting him to lunches, movie nights, and parties. He also introduced Sanjeev to many of his friends, who then introduced him to theirs in turn, helping Sanjeev to quickly connect with lots of new people.

“David really changed the lifestyle that I had,” Sanjeev says. “He is one of the kindest, most generous people that I have met in my entire life. I had lived in London for a long time before and felt quite alone, but since meeting David, my life is more fun and colorful.”

Mark: “I have managed to connect all these people.”

Mark, a British photographer, has lived in New Orleans (USA) for the past two years. He returned to London in January to finalize his visa application and to let his house to new tenants. Unfortunately, five days after he had collected his visa, the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed — and Mark was unable to travel back to his wife in the USA. While being stuck in the UK, Mark volunteered for a couple of national welfare organizations. He also used his photography skills to take 66 free family portraits from a safe distance at their doorsteps.

Throughout his time as a volunteer, Mark became great friends with the people he supported. One person he helped was Anne, a 92-year-old woman. Through posting her picture on social media, she was able to reconnect with people she had not seen in almost 40 years. “Just through photography, I have managed to connect all these people, which is a really nice feeling,” Mark thinks.

Adriana: “This is a friendship with no boundaries.”

In 2016, Adriana met Paulo for the first time at one of the events InterNations offers in São Paulo. He had just arrived in Brazil after having lived in Luanda (Angola). While he had already found an apartment, his apartment still lacked some utensils. Adriana immediately offered to go to the mall with Paulo and to show him where he could purchase plates, cups, forks, and other household items. They became friends right away.

Although Paulo now lives in Brussels and has not seen Adriana for more than a year, they still talk to each other several times a week on video chat. They always used to help each other and discuss any problems they might have with their families, jobs, and lives in general. “Even though we have not seen each other in person since September 2018, we talk to each other more than some friends living in the same city,” Adriana explains. “This is a friendship without boundaries.”

Janie: “I never met a person I didn’t find interesting.”

The Russian expat Janie has visited 238 countries and territories, and there are only ten destinations left on her bucket list. She was planning to visit these locations this year, but the coronavirus outbreak thwarted her plans for 2020. Staying in Adelaide (Australia) for a while, Janie has found the time to write a book about her journeys — Around the World in 99 Disasters.

While traveling the world, Janie normally stays with locals — strangers who then become friends. “It is my preferred way of traveling”, she explains. “And a lot of my trips would not have happened if it was not for random acts of kindness.” Janie’sbook about her travels has also given her a way to reconnect with some of the friends she has made over the past 20 years, sending them the chapters in which they are mentioned. Janie’s experience shows that stories can bring people together and reunite friends, even in the middle of a pandemic. She also believes that every single place is special and worth visiting: “I have never been to a place, not even a little village, that I felt I had seen before, just like I have never met a person I did not find interesting.”

Beatrix: “What we have in common is more important.”

Beatrix, a German living in Jülich, met her partner Sulaiman just two years ago. He has lived a very international life: Being born in Burkina Faso, he then studied in Ghana and Nigeria. After that, he received his doctorate in Malaysia, where he worked as a scientist, conducting a study on marine technology and seaweed farming. He has also traveled to nearly all countries across the globe. After being in a long-distance relationship with Beatrix, Sulaiman finally moved to Germany in 2020. 

An international relationship is not always easy, but they would not want to have it any other way. “We always say that our intercultural relationship will never be boring,” Beatrix shares. Communicating in English most of the time, which is neither’s mother tongue, does not make things any easier: “At the beginning, of course, we often had misunderstandings because we come from different cultures.” But they have come to see these differences as a chance to grow and learn from each other: “We feel that what we have in common is much more important than the differences in our personalities and cultures.”

Christel: “She has drawn me into a lovely circle of friends.”

Although both of them have German roots, Christel and Ilonka see themselves as having completely different personalities. “With her bubbly personality and outspoken mind, she has drawn me into a circle of lovely people,” Christel says about Ilonka. While Christel describes herself as someone rather quietwho likes to observe people first, Ilonka immediately finds a way to strike up a conversation.

They do have two things in common, though: Both women have settled down in the United Kingdom, and they are also enthusiastic event hosts in the InterNations Nottingham Community. Christel and Ilonka run two InterNations Groups — the Nottingham Book Group and the Nottingham “Cuppa” Group — organizing all kinds of activities for expats and global minds in town. “I have never made so many friends in my life before because our groups keep growing all the time, and it is just nice to go out with other people,” Christel explains.

Dora: “I can see through different eyes.”

Originally from Brazil, Dora moved to Augsburg (Germany) for a sabbatical year in 2018. Not knowing anyone in town, she hoped that attending events for expats would be a great way of getting to know new people — and it was: At one of her first events in Augsburg, she met Stefan, the man who would later become her partner.

After a while, Dora’s temporary sabbatical turned into a permanent relocation. The couple has been living together since November 2018, and they have traveled to Brazil twice to meet Dora’s parents. Dora loves the mix of languages and cultures that comes from being in a relationship with Stefan — they speak “50% German and 50% English”, she explains. Stefan is also learning Portuguese so that he can communicate more easily with Dora’s family in Brazil. Dora believes that being in an intercultural relationship, as well as having international friends, allows “you to see things through different eyes”.

Gene & Jen: “That was the first, last, and only time that all five of us were together.”

The Canadian Gene and the British expat Jen met in the Netherlands at one of the last in-person events before lockdown measures due to the coronavirus pandemic were put in place. They also met two expats from Brazil and one from Slovakia the same night. All five of them got along right away. “But that was the first, last, and only time that all five of us were together, before the lockdown started,” Gene notes.

The new friendship group was formed just in time. Jen points out how all of them were going through similar challenges in self-isolation. She recommends that expats who might be feeling a bit lonely right now, especially during periods of social distancing, should not be afraid to reach out to other expats online. “Everyone is in the same position at the moment,” Jen says. “People do understand and are willing to help and share their experiences and stories to support you.”

The Best Countries for Expats to Find Friends

In the new Expat Insider 2020 survey, Mexico emerges as the best country to make friends abroad for the third year in a row. More than seven in ten expats find it easy to make friends in general (73% vs. 47% globally), as well as local friends (71% vs. 42% globally). A US American mentions the “friendly local people” as one of the things she likes most about living in Mexico, and a Portuguese expat emphasizes “how easy is to get along with the locals”.

Out of the 58 countries featured in the survey, Mexico is followed by Bahrain (2nd)EcuadorColombia, Panama, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Argentina, and the Philippines (10th). WhileBahrain, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Philippines were already part of the best countries for making friends in 2019, the others are new among the top 10. Panama is the biggest winner in this category, moving up 28 ranks (from 33rd to 5th) in just one year. Now, 64% of expats find it easy to make new friends there, compared to 47% globally.

In seven of the top 10 countries (all except for Bahrain, Panama, and Malaysia) an above-average share of expats say they are mainly friends with locals. For example, more than half the expats in Colombia (52%) say so, which is 33 percentage points above the global average (19%) and the highest share worldwide.

The top 10 countries for making friends also perform very well in the Feeling at Home and Friendliness subcategories. In fact, at least three-quarters of the respondents describe the local residents as generally friendly towards expats in all ten countries. In Panama (75%) this share is the lowest, while Mexico is on top of the list once again (90%), compared to 66% globally.

Worst Countries forn Expats to Find Friends

At the other end of the ranking scale, Denmark (58th) is rated the worst country for finding friends for the second year in a row. Nearly three in five expats in Denmark (58%) have trouble making new friends abroad (vs. 33% globally). “Danes have their friends from growing up or university,” a US American expat explains. “And they consider them lifelong friends, so they are not very open to making new friends.” She also shares: “But a lot of expats are here, and it is easy to make friends with them, since they also feel lonely, having no Danish friends either.”

Denmark is followed by Kuwait (57th), SwedenNorwayJapanSwitzerlandSouth KoreaFinlandthe Netherlands, and Austria (49th). Only Japan is new among the bottom 10—the other ninecountries ranked among the worst in world last year as well. More than half the expats in Japan (52%) have trouble making new friends (vs. 33% globally), and 55% think that it is difficult to make local friends in particular (vs. 38%). “Making good local friends takes a lot of effort,” a Bangladeshi expat shares.

It looks like the lack of friends is reflected in the respondents’ social life. All ten countries show below-average results for the respondents’ satisfaction with their social life. For example, more than half the expats in Kuwait (52%) rate their social life negatively, which is the highest share worldwide and 28 percentage points above the global average (24%).

It is also hard for expats to get used to the local culture in these countries, and they tend to describe the locals as generally unfriendly towards foreign residents. A Canadian expat in Sweden shares that “people are not so friendly if you do not speak Swedish” and that it is “hard to make friends if you do not speak the language”. In fact, 28% of expats in Sweden consider the local population to be generally unfriendly towards foreigners (vs. 18% globally), which is, however, not the highest share worldwide. An even larger share of expats in South Korea (29%), Switzerland (29%), Denmark (36%), Austria (38%), and Kuwait (53%) struggle with a similar attitude.

Bike Tours and Picnics in the Park — Reintroducing In-Person Events

Since March 2020, our members have used our online events as an opportunity to meet and connect with other expats and global minds around the world. Now, as the number of new COVID-19 infections seems to be stabilizing and even decreasing in some countries, quite a number of InterNations Communities have resumed their in-person events (while still hosting online events). With a few safety measures in place and with the weather getting warmer in the Northern Hemisphere, our members are finally able to enjoy meeting in real life again. Here are some of our highlights!

Welcome Drinks and a Bike Tour

After a long break, InterNations Prague finally had the chance to host an in-person monthly event on Tuesday, 9 June. Community members met at the Hard Rock Café near the Old Town Square, one of the community’s favorite venues. They enjoyed this opportunity to finally catch up with one another in person again.

To ensure everyone’s safety, attendees had their temperatures taken at the entrance to the event. Face masks were mandatory attire for anyone who wasn’t eating or drinking and only ten people or fewer could gather in groups. Despite these safety rules, everyone had a great time. Thanks to Prague Ambassadors Jitka McKee and Lucie Bukovanská, who had reserved the entire downstairs bar area, the event was a big success!

The Helsinki Sports Group took advantage of the increasingly warm weather to do a bike tour around the city. Together, the members explored beautiful streets and waterfronts and spent some time relaxing on the beach. The route that activity hosts Liza Ageeva and Andrei Klimchuk had chosen made the event accessible even for those without extensive cycling experience. On two wheels, they explored Kulosaari, an island with villas and old casinos, and ended the tour in Laajasalo with a picnic at the beach.

From Painting to Picnics

If you want to get creative and join other hobby artists, the Prague Creative Arts & Crafts Group meets at Liboc Lake on Saturday, 20 June. After staying indoors and only meeting virtually for months, members of the group can finally get together again and enjoy the sunshine. As the weather is bound to be great, why not use this opportunity to bring your drawing pad and paintbrushes to depict the beautiful lake and its surroundings?

InterNations Budapest will also spend some time outdoors with a picnic brunch on Saturday, 20 June. Budapest Ambassadors Lajos Farkas and Muhammad Eldaidamony have chosen the beautiful Margit Island as the location for their very special first in-person event. The island is located on the Danube River between the original towns of Buda and Pest. Not only is it a great place to enjoy food and drinks and good conversation, but it is also a place where members can keep a safe distance from other people. Feel free to bring a picnic blanket and some fun games — and get ready to enjoy a day out with fellow expats and global minds!

Connect and Stay Safe!

Although the pandemic is by no means over, many of our communities are starting to slowly and carefully return to in-person events and activities. So far, 98 communities in 24 countries, including China, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sweden, and Norway, have resumed these types of events.

When attending in-person events, please keep in mind that your health and safety are your responsibility. While our Ambassadors and Consuls try to establish certain rules, such as no handshaking, to keep you safe, it is ultimately up to each attendee to stick to these rules. We would also ask you not to take any risks: if you have been in contact with a person who is sick or if you feel unwell, please stay at home! You can still attend our online events and activities, of course.

Our online events and activities are taking place all around the world, even in communities that are slowly reintroducing in-person gatherings. Online events are a great opportunity to interact with members in other communities and connect with people you may not otherwise be able to meet. Take a look at your events calendar for a great overview of what’s going on in our communities around the world.