How to Make Local Friends || Beyond the Bubble

The Best Ways to Make Some Great Local Friends in No Time!

It’s a familiar picture for language school students across the world…

You’re out with your new friends and when you look around at everyone, you can see the entire world represented – like a mini United Nations!

But wait.

There is one country conspicuously absent. That’s when it hits you – there aren’t any locals amongst your friends! 

You’ve landed in a foreigner bubble. 

So how do you push past the foreigner bubble, and actually form friendships with locals, and finally put those hard earned language skills to use? 

Read on for several great tips on how to make local friends when you are a language student!

Making Local Friends || Language Exchanges

Making Local Friends || Local roommates

Making Local Friends || Hobbies and clubs

Making Local Friends || Live in a Homestay

Making Local Friends || Benefits of the foreigner bubble

Making Local Friends || FAQs

Language Exchanges

In my opinion the easiest way to start branching out and meeting locals is through language exchanges.

Most cities will have several groups meeting on different nights of the week, usually at cafes or bars. 

Beijing-best-coffee-shops
Language exchange groups usually meet at some great local cafes or bars!

Why is this the ideal place to start

Think about it: locals who attend language exchanges are open to meeting new people and interacting with foreigners.

Also consider the major bonus that they speak some of your language, so if your target language skills are not yet strong enough to carry a full conversation you can always switch languages! 

Many language exchanges advertise via social media platforms, or word of mouth. So don’t be afraid to ask around about any good ones that you can attend. 

It might take a few tries before you find one where you can really vibe with the other participants, and that also matches your ideal balance between having a good time and serious language practice. 

TOP TIP || check out a company called Mundolingo. They host language exchange events around the world in major cities and the turnouts are usually really popular (especially in South America). Max from the LTL team went before to some of the events in London and they are a great place to meet locals.

Local Roommates 

This tip might not be doable for everyone, but if you do have the option of living with local roommates, I cannot recommend it enough! 

You instantly have a local social circle.

You’ll probably go out to dinner with your roommates, relax together on the couch while watching some Chinese TV, and just generally hang out together. 

Your local roommates might even invite some of their friends along to these types of activities, giving you an even wider group of locals to interact with! 

Living together is a great way to get to know people very fast and develop a deeper relationship. 

Friendships take time to form, and if you’re only in a country for a shorter time this can be hard to do.

Especially with locals who already have their established group of friends.

Other friendless foreigners are often easier to connect with – another reason why that foreigner bubble keeps popping up!

So having a group of people, especially locals, that you can get closer to quickly is ideal when looking for local friends! 

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Do Your Thing!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Whether it’s playing sports, cooking, going to festivals, hiking etc.

There’s probably a way to meet new people while you’re doing something you love!

You could take a local cooking class, or join a tennis club!

Try and do what you love in a way that lets you easily interact with people, since you are guaranteed to have at least one interest in common with everyone you meet in this way. 

Take hiking for example; I like to joke with one friend that she can walk up a mountain alone and come down with two new friends she can go hiking with next time. 

So what’s her secret?

She claims it’s her drone that she flies on every summit that draws the crowds and provides the perfect conversation starter, but I think her being friendly and interested in meeting new people certainly helps!

So take out those earbuds and try to be as approachable as possible while doing the things you love!

👉 Want to learn to talk about sports in Chinese? Check out our Mandarin Sports Guide here!

Live in a homestay

Living in a homestay program involves staying with a local family in their home while you study or travel in their city or country.

This provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle, which can help you make local friends.

When you stay with a local family, you are likely to interact with them on a daily basis.

You will share meals, conversations, and experiences with them, which can help you build a relationship with them and sharpen your language skills!

They may also introduce you to their friends and neighbors, who can become your friends.

Additionally, living in a homestay program can provide a more authentic cultural experience compared to staying in an international student dorm or studio apartment.

You will learn about the local customs, traditions, and way of life firsthand from your host family, which can help you understand and appreciate the local culture whilst avoiding culture shock.

This can make it easier to connect with locals and make friends.

Don’t Write Off The Bubble

While it’s important to try and make local friends, don’t try and completely block yourself off from other foreigners. 

In a completely alien environment it can be very nice to have something familiar, someone who is also going through the same challenges you are and understands where you’re coming from. 

You can also learn a lot from other foreigners, especially those who have been in the country a bit longer.  

And you never know, maybe your foreign friends will end up introducing you to some locals that they know!

Above all developing relationships takes time, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t immediately have local friends. 慢慢來! And it’ll develop naturally at some point.

But you can always try and follow some of these tips to help speed the process along of course!

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That concludes our guide to making local friends. We hope you’ve found this useful.

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you make new friends in an unfamiliar location?

We’d love to hear them. Share them in the comments below 🤩

Making Local Friends || FAQs

How can I start making local friends?

You can try out language exchanges, joining clubs for hobbies that you are interested in, or find local roommates to live with!

How can I find a language exchange group?

Many language exchanges advertise via social media platforms, or word of mouth. I would try out a few different ones to make sure you find one that matches your ideal balance between having a good time and serious language practice!

Is it okay to have non-local friends?

It can be very important to have other foreign friends! They can be easier to connect with at first, and provide stability and a support network in a completely new place. Also, they might end up introducing you to their local friends!

How can I arrange a homestay program?

It’s easy! You can check out LTL homestay programs in Bejing, Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore and more. We’ll do the work for you and pair you with the perfect family to ease you into local life.

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    Sabatino Antonini , Student Advisor

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