How can I meet people in spite of social distancing?

Since the emergence of Covid-19, many of our expat partners (especially new arrivals) have inevitably found it harder to meet people in person. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Don’t forget…

“I always remind expat partners to use our Global Connection directory of members, to see who else is around,” says Doris Betz – a consultant at Global Connection. “I vividly remember two of our members in my home country Switzerland connected with each other via the directory and they were very grateful for the tip. They developed a close friendship that helped them get through a difficult year.”

Other sources

And there are of course other sources: “One expat partner, who recently moved to a new country, connected with other expats through a Facebook group for expats,” says Doris. “We have known for years that virtual contacts can be vital: it allows you to already connect before the move, the period when you have a lot of questions.”

A little strategy

“Generally speaking, meeting people just takes a little more time and strategy,” continues Doris, adding that the aforementioned expat partner also clarified what the restrictions were for social distancing in her new hometown. “That wasn’t only useful for when she was planning to have coffee with some other expats, but also for interactions within her immediate community. For example, her local market was open with restrictions. But it felt good for her to be able to walk over there and say good morning.”

No random meetings

“It’s definitely been harder for our members to meet people over the last year. You don’t ‘bump into’ someone as you would have done before,” says another of our consultants, Eva Bonsel. “You have to be a little proactive which I know is something partners don’t always feel comfortable about. I agree with Doris that you don’t have to meet in person straightaway. Organising a virtual coffee date with another expat partner can be a great way for a newcomer to get a clearer understanding of the host country.”

Life goes on

“It’s also worth remembering that communities all around the world are doing their best to organise events while adhering to local restrictions,” says Eva. “For example, here in Lisbon, International Women in Portugal has organised many online events and walking tours for small groups. So look for similar associations in your location and drop them a line and let them know you’ve just moved to town.”


Photo: Global Connection consultants Doris Betz (left) and Eva Bonsel

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