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Back home I was always a member of the local badminton club and at a time I was a member of the Weight Watcher's Club. Both were very effective in my life. I not only got to play my sport, but it served as a large part of my social life. I met some special lifelong friends there. Weight Watchers also served me very well in that it helped me change my perspective on what a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle meant to me and like the many badminton clubs I supported over the years, Weight Watchers was a place where I met many supporting and like-minded people.

I chose to use my positive experiences with clubs when I relocated overseas and got involved with different clubs that suited my interests such as the dance club, the "Learn Korean" club, the singles club, the fitness club and of course last but not least, the badminton club.

I have, however found that too often when expats relocate, they tend to shy away from joining clubs. There may be various reasons namely: being overwhelmed by everything that is happening; being fearful of walking into a new club for the first time; not knowing the language; laziness etc.

But time and time again in the different countries I have been fortunate enough to work and live, I have found joining clubs to be an excellent way to quickly meet diverse groups of people. Clubs offer so many different facilities ranging from playing fields and organised sporting teams, to squash courts and swimming pools. But as already mentioned, joining clubs are not limited to the sports arena. There are book clubs, expat support clubs, cooking clubs, and chess or scrabble clubs, AA clubs, monthly travel clubs, the Rotary club, Toastmasters, the local Lions club and the list goes on.

Many clubs provide food and beverages at good rates and often prepare for special functions such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Guy Fawkes, birthdays or other special days that are celebrated in your home country. Organising a function yourself at a club is also an easy and cheap option.

You could organize a variety of leisure opportunities such as dinners, wine tastings, trivia nights, costume parties, potluck dinners, movie nights, and cultural activities. For couples with children I have found that the majority of clubs are very accommodating and have groups for mothers and their children. They often provide a range of classes and activities starting with ballet or karate classes going all the way through to finger painting afternoons.

And then, please do not forget about your local library! No matter the size, the library is very often the very hub of the community. I am so thankful for all those afternoons when I sat at the library emailing family and friends for hours at a time and for free. Libraries are also more often than not, a great source for all kinds of local information.

If you look close to home, the companies you work for usually offer a wide range of club activities. Make it your business to find out what is available right at your fingertips. Special rates are always made available to staff members.

Joining clubs can be very helpful in making your expat living experience a success.

If you think about it, club hopping may be just the thing you need.

Action Plan:

* Decide which club you want to join.
* Find out all the information and details you need to know.
* Determine a date by which you will commit to signing up.
* Join.
* Have fun!

A quote to remember:

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London
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