My Tuesday Night Dinner Club
I had the good fortune to meet three very cool friends (and eventually the husband of one as well)– more or less as a group – in September of last year. Two are teachers of subjects other than English, and one does freelance work in different areas. We know each other in different ways – two as neighbors, two as coworkers, another pair as alumni of the same university who happened to find this connection at a party. We are all Americans. This is the first time in my three plus years of living abroad that I’ve hung out with, literally, a group of Americans – and it has been absolutely wonderful.
I don’t think it’s simply because we are all Americans that it’s wonderful – I think it’s also that our ages only span about eight years from youngest to least youngest, and we all have interest and experience in living and traveling abroad. One of the great things about TEFL is that it allows you to meet such a diverse group of people…but sometimes it’s nice to have friends with whom you can talk about Trapper Keepers, rap Vanilla Ice together, and rejoice when you find perfect avocados at a supermarket chain in the largest and most densely populated highrise apartment neighborhood of Central Eastern Europe. If in the odd moment you need to complain about work, you can do so without worrying it might get back to the boss.
It’s nice to be able to borrow your neighbor’s vacuum cleaner or use her washing machine when yours is broken or borrow some extra blankets when you have a guest passing through town (this sounds mostly one-sided; I did cook Thanksgiving dinner once …though I borrowed some plates for that…).
Second-hand GRE prep materials are also nice to “inherit”, and who can complain about homemade, from scratch pita bread, felafel and black bean burgers.
Also, in the midst of some serious housing concerns in a foreign country, it is hard to put into words how nice it is to be told there is a spare room for you to stay in if things get dire.
I don’t think it’s rare to meet people you like while you are abroad, but I think it’s very rare to form a small group – with everyone in different jobs but regularly able to meet at about the same time – with this much in common.
It’s been fun.