How To Make Chinese Friends| 3 min read
Preparation is key. The more time you have to prepare the better, and it would be wise for someone travelling to a foreign land to attempt to pick up at least a few scraps of the language before arrival. Those with a busy schedule could take one class a week. If taking classes is not possible, self teaching can be useful; learning simple phrases and words, then working up to phrases that will help in a conversation.
The internet has an abundance of language learning resources. Depending on what circle of friends you choose to be a part of, knowledge of the language might not be so crucial. There are many friendly Chinese people who speak excellent English.
If someone you know has been to or lived in China before, asking them to connect you with their chinese friends is a great way to establish initial contacts within the country. Even if the person only has connections within the expat community, it can still be useful to connect and make friends with them whilst in China, they will likely have Chinese friends that you can get to know.
If you are not so fortunate as to have well-travelled friends, the internet can be very useful for getting in touch with Chinese people. There is an article which gives ideas on how to do this and suggests some social networking sites that can help. If you have studied the language for a while, the Chinese social media sites are the perfect place to look, such as renren, QQ and Weibo. There is another article that gives an overview of these three sites and suggests ways to get started.
Once in China, participating in sports is a great way to meet Chinese people. Soccer, badminton and billiards are very popular, among other games. In certain towns traditional games such as mahjong (麻将) and Doudizhu (斗地主) are very popular. Asking the new Chinese people you meet to teach you how to play will show your curiosity of their culture and interests, and they certainly will be excited to teach you.
At many universities there is an English Corner where Chinese people will go to meet foreigners. For those who might not want to jump into talking to random Chinese whose English proficiency is unknown, attending an English Corner is perfect. Local bars are always full of people, any day of the week. Most local Chinese people would be more than happy to have a foreigner sit at their table and trade stories over a drink or dinner, all it takes is a little confidence (and maybe some patience if there is a language issue!)