I want to find a Japanese conversation partner around my age (20s), but it seems like the best places to meet locals near me are at bars. I don’t like drinking and don’t really socialize well in that atmosphere. Where are some other places I could try to meet Japanese people around my age?
Answered by: Emily
It can be hard meet people your own age in a foreign country, especially if you’re located in a rural area, but rest assured that you don’t need to visit bars to make Japanese friends if you’re not comfortable with that. Here are some other places to look for conversation partners and Japanese friends
– Your City Hall or Continuing Education Center – Many City Halls and Continuing Education Centers keep lists of local clubs and special interest groups. Joining a local club in your area of interest (a chorus, basketball circle, etc) can be a good way to meet people who share your interests. Many towns also hold a Japanese class. Such classes can be a way to meet Japanese learners from many different countries and backgrounds, and practice speaking with someone who also wants to improve their Japanese.
– Local University Bulletin Boards – Local Universities like Tsukuba University bulletin boards where many people, including non-students, post fliers and requests for conversation partners. You can look at the boards to see who else is looking for a partner, or post your own flyer, specifying that you’d like to speak with someone of the same age or gender. It may be a bit of a hike if you’re located in a small town, but can be a good resource if you’re willing to make the trip.
– Your Workplace – It can sometimes be difficult to approach coworkers during the workday, but if you’re willing to reach out and make plans outside of school time your social circle can widen. Take advantage of testing periods at school to invite teachers outside the English department to lunch. You can also take the initiative and invite a few coworkers along to a local summer festival, concert or cultural event.
– Homestay Programs – the Ibaraki International Association coordinates a homestay program every year in September, which can be a good chance to meet a local family and make new friends. Email Ludo at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You also might want to take a look at Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #007 for some related advice!