This week I thought long and hard about my first weekly challenge. I truly value all of the ideas contributed by readers, please keep them coming. However, I wanted my first challenge to be of benefit not only to me, but also to those who live in Japan or in a country different to their own.
My challenge this week was to try various ways to make new friends. Before you ask, no, I am not miserable, lonely and friendless here in Tokyo, I have a great group of friends but hey it's always good to meet new people right? There can only be positive outcomes from trying such a thing and after being here for almost two years, I forget how fun it can to meet new people. Below are the following ways I tried this week.
How Could You Not Try:
The idea behind this website is utterly brilliant in my eyes: people post interest groups, arrange events, organise language exchanges and it is simply up to you if you want to join or not. It is a world renowned website and although the prospect of going it alone can be daunting at first, especially for someone as shy as me, it turned out to be the opposite. Everyone was so friendly and nice and I came away feeling like I had made a lot of new friends. In fact, we have arranged to meet up for coffee in two weeks time.
Groups can range from book lovers to scottish highland dancing. Most major festivals and celebrations are covered and you are very likely to find a group suited to your tastes. Most major cities in the world contribute to this website so check yours out now. It will be worth it trust me.
|Meetup.com source: www.meetup.com|
Although this is for those who primarily live in Tokyo, I couldn't not mention it. This is a website that organises exhilarating, action packed events that take place all over Japan. Unfortunately I didn't take part in any event this week as they usually take place at the weekend, but I did however sign up for a weekend trip that they have organised in June. I have been on a couple of their trips and it is a surefire way to meet likeminded people; both Japanese and non-Japanese alike, despite the name.
|Tokyo Gaijins source: www.tokyogaijins.com|
Local gym / sports club / sports team
This is by far not a new idea but it is an idea that truly works. If you have an interest in any sport, seek hard enough and you will find that there are people willing to learn or are already playing. Nobody was as surprised as me to learn that there is an amazing Irish dancing club based here in Tokyo. As part of my challenge though I wanted to try something new, so I decided to renew my gym membership but this time promising myself that I would participate in classes rather than just run on a treadmill for an hour. So far I have tried zumba and swimming, both exhausting but fun and it was definitely an easy way to meet people but my recommendation would be to wait around before and after the class, talking to people while dancing or under water is impossible!
Local bars / Restaurants:
Eating out alone has always been an unenjoyable experience for me. I like the company of others and if I am alone I would rather cook at home and watch a movie / read while eating rather than face the prospect of sitting in a restaurant alone. Eating out in Japan is a social event; lots of noise, smoke and small dishes are common, while eating alone is a quick affair which is done to satiate hunger. What did I do this week; I walked into an unfamiliar place, with an unreadable menu and no pictures. My heart was beating incredibly fast as I wondered how I would do it but the rings of Irrishimassai (Welcome!) were too loud to ignore so I sat down. Nobody who worked there spoke English and I ate some very questionable things but a lovely elderly man came over and offered me some sake and all felt right in the world.
Some Other Ways:
If you live abroad, this is an excellent way to learn a language and make a new friend. Websites in Tokyo such as Gaijinpot.com list language exchanges but remember safety is always crucial especially on the internet. Another way, without using the internet, is if you work with any Japanese people (________ insert nation of choice) and ask them if they would be interested in a language exchange.
Last but not least is the invaluable but sometimes bewildering internet. It can be impossible to find something if you don't really know what it is that you are looking for. The following websites have been invaluable to me, they keep me up to date with everything that is going on and I can pick and choose events to go to, hoping to meet new people as I do. I check them regularly, this week it has been daily due to my challenge. They provide up to date information on what is going on in Tokyo, cultural and language exchanges, trips, shows, the list is endless. I hope they will be just as useful to you.
Time Out Tokyo http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo
How did I do with my first challenge? Is there anything you would like me to try and do next week? Is there anything you would like to add to ways of meeting new people?
Thank you to all those who commented and emailed after my recent bout of writers block. It really meant the world to me. This post is dedicated to you.