Get Better at Meeting People in Spain
Spain Expat’s best 7 suggestions for meeting people in Spain.
Rest assured that somewhere in Spain there’s a club for it.
Unless you decide to limit your social contact in your brand-new Spanish city to buying fruit from the greengrocer’s, you’ll need to get yourself out there and meet some new people.
Meeting other expatriates can certainly help ease the transition to Spain and help you have some fun, but generally, meeting Spaniards and building up your very own Spanish social network is the best way to truly come to understand this new place you’ve chosen to make your home. But unless you’ve already had the good fortune to marry a Spaniard with tons of friends and a big family to keep your calendar busy till kingdom come, what’s a guy or a gal to do?
- Learn Spanish! – This may be the most obvious answer to meeting Spaniards, but it may also be the most important. Statistically speaking, most Spaniards don’t speak English, so your ability to speak their language opens up a whole new world of possibilities, making even a trip to the hardware store or a simple bus ride a golden opportunity.
- Join a club – Wherever your interests lie, joining a club gives you access to a whole new pool of people that you already have something in common with. Many international organizations have Spanish chapters, so if back home you’re a member of, let’s say, Mensa or the Society for Creative Anachronism, the local Spanish chapter could be a great way to keep up your mental or battlefield skills and socialize with Spaniards at the same time! Spain also has an impressive variety of homegrown clubs and associations, from neighborhood associations and local sports clubs to business associations and arts collectives. If you’re interested in something, rest assured that somewhere in Spain there’s a club for it.
- Get an intercambio – Many Spaniards are interested in improving their foreign language skills, especially the younger set. Intercambios can be a great way for you as a foreigner not only to improve your Spanish-language skills, but meet a steady stream of Spaniards in a relaxed environment, and perhaps discover some new cafés in the process. It’s true that some Spaniards are only interested in improving their language skills, but there are still plenty of Spaniards out there who use intercambios to find foreign friends. And who knows? If you’re open to the possibility, you may even find your media naranja this way.
- Take a class – An activity class can be a good way to learn or sharpen your skills, get in shape, and “get yourself out there” to meet some Spaniards. Think about joining a soccer/football team, taking up painting and drawing or salsa dancing, or finally learning how to rock climb. If you want something more “Spanish”, there’s always flamenco dancing and Spanish guitar lessons, but let’s not forget paddle tennis (padel, it’s somewhat like tennis), Basque pelota (pelota vasca, also somewhat like tennis), sevillanas dancing (so you can get down like the locals for the Feria de Abril), and of course, SOCCER! (Ed. - that’s “football” to many of you.)
- Work for a Spanish company – Depending on where you’re from, here socializing at work may be encouraged more than you’re used to. Take advantage of this and don’t overlook the workplace as a possible source for friends. Sometimes nothing can bring two people together faster than a shared office and meals paid for with Ticket Restaurant tickets.
- Volunteer – Besides the usual altruistic feelings that come with the territory, volunteering can also be a great way to meet people who care about the things you do. Whether volunteering with the Spanish Red Cross, Greenpeace, Pueblo Inglés or your local school, you’re bound to meet some remarkable people like yourself.
- Get to know your neighbors – Even if you’ve never even seen your neighbors before, now is a good enough time as any to introduce yourself. Your neighbors can be great allies to have (especially on those days when you accidentally drop your underwear from your clothesline onto their windowsill as I once did), and if they’ve lived there a long time, they may have some interesting stories about how the neighborhood used to be or about infamous past residents, which may prove to be useful information if you’re not of the mind to become an infamous resident yourself.