How a Meetup Group in Germany Changed Everything

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“This will be awkward,” I said

“Oh, I know.”  Dan rolled his eyes

“Should we not go?” I asked, semi-panicked.

“No, no, we should go.” His gaze relaxed as he looked my way, willing me to calm down.

We had been living in Germany for three months with zero friends to speak of. Our town’s Meetup group was having an event that night–a movie followed by drinks.

“I mean, at least it’s a movie. That way if it is weird, we don’t have to talk to anyone!” I half joked.

We arrived at the movie theatre, and bought our tickets and a beer. We sat in the lobby looking around. We didn’t know who we were looking for–perhaps someone just as awkward as we probably looked. It felt like a blind date, but for new friends instead of a lover.

A solo man walked in wearing an Oregon hooded sweatshirt. He bought his ticket and stood by the bar. A man wearing a beret and a long-sleeve grey shirt walked in next, bought his ticket and joined the first man at the bar. They were standing 20 feet from Dan and me. I could hear them speaking English.

It felt like a blind date, but for new friends instead of a lover.

“I think they’re part of the Meetup!” I whispered.

“You think?”

“We should go talk to them,” I insisted

Dan looked hesitant.

“Again, this will be awkward, but we’re here. Let’s do this.” I stood up, and Dan followed.

“Hey, are you two here for the Meetup?” We joined the two men.

“Oh yeah, we are.” The man in the beret said. “I’m Jay and this is Spencer.” We all shook hands.

We talked for the next 20 minutes. We told them our story and why we were living in Germany. We found out they were both in the Air Force and have been in Germany for two years now. More and more people joined, and finally just as we were about to go into the theater, Yvonne arrived.

Yvonne is the organizer of the Meetup group. She was wearing a floral shirt and holding a large purse, looking slightly flustered. Her wet, red hair hung down almost to her waist.

“Hello everyone! What a great group we have!” she practically sang.

The ushers called us into the movie and we took our seats. Two hours later, the Meetup group stood in a circle outside the theater. We were discussing the movie, and still introducing ourselves to one another.

“I can’t wait to go home and look up that movie on imdb.com.” Yvonne said.

“Really? I do that too! My favorite is the trivia section. It’s the best!” I said to her.

She suggested we all go to an Irish pub nearby to continue getting to know one another. The group of eight sat at a long table sharing a few pitchers of beer.

“I’m going to a German-American business networking event, and you’re coming with me.”

“So, what’s your story?” Yvonne was sitting across from Dan and me, and leaned in closer as shouts from soccer fans watching a big
screen grew louder.

We told her our story, and I went on to tell her how difficult it is to get a job as an American despite exhausting all efforts.

“Oh! You’re coming with me tomorrow!” She interrupted.

I laughed nervously, “Okay…”

“I’m going to a German-American business networking event, and you’re coming with me.”

Being in a new city with no friends, I should not turn down a networking opportunity, I thought.

“Sounds great,” I told her.

The pitchers of beer were nearly empty and everyone looked tired as the clock neared midnight. We all shook hands and said the obligatory “It was nice to meet you”s. Yvonne gave everyone a hug, took down my address and told me she would pick me up at seven the next night.

“Wow.” I said on the way home. “That was fun.”

“I’m happy we went,” Dan agreed.

That was two months ago. I am now working with a local magazine, writing travel articles and with the American Red Cross, managing local volunteers. I am co-chair of the English speaking group for the German-American International Women’s Group and regularly attend the group’s cultural events. I am receiving German lessons once a week from Yvonne and have found what a great friend and dinner party host she is.

This all happened because of that assumed awkward night. This is why you have to take advantage of every opportunity you’re presented with, especially when you’re in a new place like Germany. I am incredibly thankful to those people I met and for our courage that night.

MeetUp Group: Best Way to Make Friends Abroad

How a Meetup Group in Germany Changed Everything

About Melissa Shock

Melissa ShockMelissa Shock quit her job and moved to Germany to experience life abroad. Read more about Melissa’s travels here.

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