Hablando Espanol y Otras Adventuras de Meetup.com

Earlier today I shared with you that I would be attending a Spanish conversational group this evening. It’s part of my effort to get out more, meet new people, and experience more of life in general. As someone who is both introverted and anxious about new social settings, I felt a bit unsure about going to a new place and meeting a whole new set of people, but I’ve got to admit, it was a great experience.

Last August when I was packing, my friend Ricki told me about meetup.com, a website where people can search for interest based groups in their communities. There are many different kinds of groups, and in addition to this Spanish one, I hope to get involved with some hiking/outdoors groups in the next few months. This site is great for people who are moving into town from elsewhere and want to make new friends, or for people who are simply looking to connect with others.

I joined a couple of weeks ago, added a few groups, and made a commitment to attend tonight. I was a bit surprised to figure out that I’d met the group’s coordinator before; he was the interpreter back in November when the local Community Action Council came out to work with the Spanish-speaking population to get their families energy assistance. I’m learning how much of a small town Olympia really is.

Anyway, the group consisted of several newbies and a few regular attenders, each at our own level of fluency. Some don’t know more than a few words, and others are non-native yet fluent, and between us all, we had a good hour of conversation in (mostly) Spanish, before breaking down and discussing things like world travel, careers, and even a hint of politics. I was the youngest person there, though there was another girl a few years older than I whom I hope to get to know better in the next few months. In these days when many people complain about how the internet has led to a breakdown in communication and a shallower level of friendships, I think I can whip out this site as a counterexample to that statement.

Questions for thought:

How have you tried to make friends in a new place? Have you met anyone through meetup, or through another website? If you were to form a meetup group in your city to meet new people, what would it be based on, and what would you hope would come of it?