After a year in Taiwan, we’ve made some friends for life, but we did it the hard way and really only got into a social circle after 9 months here. Now we’re leaving, we know exactly what we should’ve done when we first arrived!
1. Befriend people at your workplace
It’s obvious, I know, but just being work friends isn’t a way to meet new people. Try to hang out with colleagues outside of work and meet their other friends. We definitely made friends with people at work easily, but didn’t see them much outside of work because of heavy timetables and the lifestyle of the people we worked with – many were married or spending weekends with their other half in Taipei.
2. Seek out the local cafes and hang-out spots
In LuoDong, our first moment of striking friendship gold was frequently Love (Mi) Café. This is how we made our local Taiwanese friends and met both of our language exchanges. In Taiwan, making friends with just one Taiwanese person automatically makes you friends with another dozen it seems!
By the time we’d met a few more Westerners, we also realised that Hackzoo Art Cafe in Yilan was a hot-spot for foreigners in Yilan county to meet for drinks and board games.
3. Join Couchsurfing
We made the excellent decision to join CouchSurfing after a few months of living here. Utilize your spare bedroom and let others stay because they will definitely return the favour when you want to do a bit of travelling. Local meet-ups organised through the site can also be a good way to meet both locals and foreigners.
4. Find the Facebook groups for your county
There are Facebook groups for just about everything these days, including foreigners and teachers in Yilan, and Buy, Sell, Trade groups. These can be useful both for when you need something and just to meet other people.
5. Go to a Really Free Market
Organised by an American living in Taipei, Really Free Markets happen in Taipei on the last Sunday of every month. As well as trading your things, this is a hub for Westerners and English-speaking Taiwanese people to network.
6. Find a group who have the same hobby as you
There are plenty of groups in Taiwan that organise meet-ups and events on weekends and evenings. We’re pretty keen on hiking, so we signed up to the Taipei Hikers, a totally free group. We went on a few hikes and river traces, and Luke even went camping with them. A friend of ours joined a local yoga class when she first arrived and the ladies there helped her settle in, and even set her up with a bicycle and scooter.
7. Write a Taiwan blog!
We actually met two of our closest friends through this blog. They commented on our posts a few times offering their own recommendations of things to do and places to eat in LuoDong, and we arranged to eat out with them a few weeks later. Then they moved in with us!