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Ex-pat clubs/groups/organisations

(14 Posts)
coconutwater1 Tue 10-Oct-17 13:05:21

Just wondering how people living overseas feel about the set up where they are as an ex-pat.

Do you enjoy the company of other ex-pats, join in with dinners, lunches meet up etc. Or do you feel like its too much like hard work at times to be 'one of the gang' and find it all a bit false? But feel as if you have to show willing.

Feel like you get on better with one particular set of nationalities over another, or find some more forward than others?.

Im finding that it can be too clicky, and have never met so many sycophantic people who are fawning over others its really keeping me away. God I have know many people in other clubs but this is really too much at the moment. Others feel the same and have dropped slight hints but still its the same.

Also how do you feel if the club does something for the local community, say for the underprivileged (not just children) do you feel the locals think 'who do these Western (insert any other) people think they are, interfering in our community' anyone get that kind of impression?

I curious as to anyone's else's thoughts experiences

fatowl Tue 10-Oct-17 13:14:33

I've been in Asia 14 years

When I first arrived I joined the expat organisatons, but I've given them up now. They were cliquey IME, fine if you play tennis, have lunch or do a few cultural visits.
I did meet a few contacts, but they all moved on years ago.

Most of my long term expat friends have come through school.

I am involved in British Girlguiding Overseas (which is a branch of Girlguiding UK), has given me contacts in the local organisations as well as a focus (beyond having lunch!)

I work now and I'm the only Brit on the staff ( a couple of other foreigners but mostly local)
I'm not very typical really.
There are far fewer traditional expats (big packages, trailing spouse) than there used to be.

coconutwater1 Tue 10-Oct-17 14:13:02

fatowl, thanks for your thoughts, and Im not a typical ex-pat wife either (and have been told this)

Glad to know Im not the only one to think it all gets to much at times!

Yes I had a few good friends when I lived in another country but we have all moved on and lost touch. Which is a shame as they are the ones who really understand what its like living away from your own country, and all the problems that go with it.

Is it a mentality to think you have to join in as your the newbie, even if you more than happy with your own company most of the time. And not feel pressured into either donating time/money or both to causes that really you have no desire or interest in, just because you should as your an ex-pat and your seen as rich?

Or am I having a grumpy day!

fatowl Tue 10-Oct-17 15:05:49

The only "'expat" group I still enjoy is my book club (which I got invited to through other Brownie leaders I know)

I'm good at my own company, and really don't enjoy idle chit chat. We are leaving in July 2018, so I have even less inclination to get to know new people. I've done so many newbie coffee mornings over the years.

The only thing I have slight guilt about is a lot of people volunteer at a refugee school (mostly kids from Myanmar learning English prior to a placement in Australia or NZ) I am a teacher and could do a couple of hours but would really struggle to fit it in around paid teaching. (Saving for return to UK!) Selfish I know

Wonderflonium Tue 10-Oct-17 16:45:58

My main issue with the expat groups is that I'm not an expat, I'm an immigrant. They are here on 3 year contracts (or their spouse is), and I've been here for years and will be here for the foreseeable.

The groups are superficial and very jolly. I've been reaching out after a long break from them because I've just had a baby and maternity leave is BORING without adult input.

One thing that also puts me off is the issue of class. I'm working/lower middle and the Brits seem to be all upper middle and although it shouldn't make any difference, I feel like a fish out of water with them. It's like a sheet of plexiglass between us.

I find that I get on better with North Americans and other Europeans, and those who have immigrated permanently.

Cantseethewoods Wed 11-Oct-17 11:17:33

I think they're helpful when you first arrive and in helping you get on the 'friends ladder', particularly if you don't have kids and are feeling a bit cast adrift. They're also useful when you're somewhere with a fairly thin expat population ( so arguably more of a lifeline in Moscow than Singapore).

I had my DC here so over the first year the expat stuff died out in favour of kid stuff, I established more solid friendships through sport and friends of friends and I went back to work between DC as well.

So in summary I see them as a stepping stone rather than a permanent solution.

Most of my friends are from the UK or from Australia/NZ.

hellokittymania Wed 11-Oct-17 11:31:48

I was living in southeast Asia for almost 10 years and still spend quite a lot of time they're doing projects. I can speak Vietnamese and work in very rural sensual Vietnam where you really don't have many ex-pats to begin with and I don't have any thing in common with the ones who are in the area. I don't drink, party or do a lot of other things, so I keep two local friends. I have made some very lovely friends over the years and I don't have to deal with the ex-pats views on the Vietnamese and why or why they don't do things. I went to Vietnam when I was only 23, and I was very young mentally at the time so I grew up in Vietnam so to speak. It was also the first place I worked, as I have a disability, so I felt very much at home and fit in well. The first two years were difficult, but after that, I really loved it and still do.

hellokittymania Wed 11-Oct-17 11:32:21

Sorry, I'm using dictation, that should be central Vietnam not sensual!

citychick Thu 12-Oct-17 01:37:51

We are SE Asia.
It's very cliquey. Even down to the blocks of apartments people live in.
The vertical village. Live in same towers, kids go to same schools, attend same rugby and football clubs. For those of us who don't live in those blocks of flats, or attend same schools, but attend rugby club, we will forever be the odd ones out. But we are not alone.

For example, the rugby club is a mix of nationalities, but primarily white British. Very yummy mummy. Folk get lazy and comfortable in their groups. I've jammed myself into volunteering at the club. Stacking the food shelves. It's a great way to make conversation, even if I don't make friends out of it.

We have, TBH, found it hard to make friends here. Not because we are antisocial, miserable gits. Life is so busy, we both work, don't have full time domestic help, we don't live in a white British vertical village, so from an expat view, that makes it tricky. We know lots of people tho.

I have recently joined an expat group for our very local area. So far it's a mid week coffee. Both gents and ladies attend. Some pop in between meetings, some have flexi time. It's only just started so we are a small group. We have a Facebook group and someone commented to ask if we had an "agenda". FGS. Can folk not meet for a coffee and a chat these days!

We had a coffee yesterday and one lady decided that we'd move from mid week coffee and start once a month evening drinks only.
Sha banged on for a bit, and eventually I said I was happy with the current set up, but sure introduce that if you want. She was a pain, and just when we'd made a nice friendly coffee group, she wanted to turn it into a booze filled evening on her terms.

She was Australian. She wanted to make it an Aussie night out. Sigh.
I've only lived in a few countries in my life, but I have lived in densely populated metropolitan cities. I have friends if many races, cultures and religions. However, I find the Australians the hardest to like. I really do. And maybe Type A American females. Though I generally adore Americans.

Whilst we like being in SE Asia, we are a tight knit family now. Very self reliant. Most of my friendships here are shallow. They don't need to know my deep thoughts and feelings. Not sure how the rest of out time here will pan out, happy to mAke new friends. I just stay out of the gossip. Cause there's plenty of that!

fatowl Thu 12-Oct-17 05:40:14

I wonder if you live in the same city as me Chick?

Sunshineandgin Thu 12-Oct-17 06:15:19

I tend to stick to more diverse groups if I can, joining things through meetup or InterNations rather than “the British Club” it’s a bit different now as I’ve got married and I’m now a trailing spouse I suppose which has its own pros and cons, I did find it easier in some ways to meet and make friends when I was living independently though.

Hi fatowl, I’ve name changed now. Don’t know that you’d remember but I haven’t forgotten your kind words and advice a few years ago when I was stuck in a tricky position with work in KL. I’ve since lived in Singapore and NYC and just recently moved to Dubai. So pleased I didn’t just give up and go home back then!

citychick Thu 12-Oct-17 06:37:20


BritabroadinAsia Thu 12-Oct-17 10:27:11

Hi citychick - was wondering how long you'd been in HK? And I'm intrigued about which rugby club you're at! (DD2 gave up recently after playing for several years)

I agree with pp that I only really engaged with specific expat organisations when we first arrived, and friendships have grown through school, friends-of-friends, neighbours etc.

I hang out with a reasonably diverse mix of nationalities and a few locals, skewed slightly towards British/Aussie/NZ/Indian but lots of other Europeans and locals live in my apartment block. I think for quite a while I didn't want to invest too much emotionally in forming deep friendships as I really missed my friends back home. The longer we've lived here, the more I've come to appreciate what great bunch of people I've met, and have been very sad to see some leave over time.

Some of the expat interactions can seem a bit shallow, and I guess you have to find your comfort level as to how much you participate. Personally, I found it worth tolerating a fair bit more socialising than I would normally, for the reward of meeting that one person who just 'clicks' with you.

fatowl Thu 12-Oct-17 10:35:54


KL grin

Waving to Sunshine, glad things worked out for you smile

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