Whether you are living in another country or just visiting, finding ways to engage in your favorite hobbies and activities abroad can be a great way to meet new people and to ease the transition into the new culture.
When I was living in Edinburgh, one of my friends convinced me to try taking swing dancing lessons with her through the student swing dance club. I had never danced at all, but I gave it a shot, especially since it only cost the equivalent of about $10 for a school year’s worth of weekly lessons. I fell in love with it, and ended up participating in the end of the year dance performance. When I moved back to DC, I found an organization that gave swing lessons (for much more than $10 a year, of course) and took lessons for another two years. I also quickly realized that the swing dance community was huge – I could go to a dance somewhere in the DC every night if I wanted to.
And that community extends internationally. One of my friends from those lessons found swing dances to attend while he was on trips in Germany, Italy, and England. Cross-cultural events like that are a great way to enter into a new country or community, and to feel more comfortable in a new place. (I tried to find a swing dance while I was in Santiago, Chile, but could only find a place that gave lessons but not dances. Dances probably exist, I just couldn’t find out about them via Google). Not everything will translate, of course, but it’s always good to look into the possibility of finding an extension of your activity or community abroad. Those activities can be used as a launching pad into new activities that you would never be able to participate in at home.
Similarly, when I was studying in St Andrews, I took my interest in writing and publications to work on the literary magazine and newspaper, just as I did at my home institution. I also extended it by joining the news team for the university radio station, which my tiny liberal arts college didn’t have.
What sort of hobbies and activities have you engaged in to ease the transition abroad? Or what will you plan to participate in in the future?