Gentle readers, I am constantly amazed at the size of the expat community here in Valencia. As I slowly build my own community of friends and family-away-from-home, I think it is important to share some of the ways that I have found people that I enjoy meeting.
The Ready-Made Group:
Probably the most effective way to meet new friends is through Internations.org. Once a month, this group of people goes to a local restaurant to catch up and enjoy a beverage. The local coordinators of the group, Marcela and Steven, meet people at the door and provide a name badge with the flags of the places you have lived (if you register in advance). The event is purely social, with no agenda, no speeches, and no costs, unless you wish to buy a specially-priced plate of tapas and a glass of wine.
What sticks out most about this group is the willingness of people to connect, to chat, to share numbers and email addresses, and spend an evening in a global community of fellow travelers, often expats themselves. I have met some really engaging and friendly people by spending an evening talking and listening. The people who attend are from all over the world, and I have found it very easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends.
The Adventure Opportunity:
After meeting a group of friends through Internations and other social gatherings, I have been invited to several “opportunities” to do some new things. The Spanish culture is often about doing and seeing new things and visiting different places. Whether overnight or for an afternoon, I rarely turn these offers down. Many of the more memorable opportunities are from excursions that were casual invitations to join a group to go somewhere.
Some adventures were mundane, but some were full-on mini vacations:
- The Saturday Street Market (or mercadillo)
- The day trip to Alicante, Benidorm, and surrounding region
- The antique car show
- The weekend trip to Alpuente
- The medieval festival in Teruel
- The Easter processions in Valencia
- And a boatload of Fallas events
Through events like these, I have made some great friends, and seen some amazing sights. While I am often focused on work during the day, I am very serious about enjoying new experiences in and around Valencia. Or nearby countries (more on that later!). Most are low- or no-cost.
To make the most of this experience, I am trying to be engaged in the culture. I can’t be shy or retiring, but should choose as many opportunities as I can to see this part of the world and make new friends.
“Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast in the pool where you least expect it; there will be a fish.” -Ovid