InterNations, if you’ve never heard of it before, is a worldwide organization for expats. On their homepage, they indicate that they are present in 390 cities and 190 countries around the globe. Their mission, simply stated, is to “make life easier for expats”, and they attempt to accomplish this in a variety of ways through their website, events, and joining together of people connected to expatriate living in one way or another.
Here in Guadalajara, the local InterNations chapter has hundreds and hundreds of members from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, and many more countries. Quite a few members are not expats at all but rather from Mexico; anyone can join, you do not have to be an actual expat. To join, you can be invited by an existing InterNations member or you are at liberty to visit their website and sign up directly.
What you will find on the site once you’ve signed up is a variety of tools and resources at your disposal to ease the difficulties presented by expat life. These include the immediate ability to complete your personal profile and connect with other members via contact requests, a messaging system, and “Twinkles”, which are akin to “Pokes” on Facebook (if we had to make a comparison). Finding other members is a simple search away.
You will also have access to several informational resources, such as the internal Guadalajara forum where you can join in the discussion by participating in various threads. Topics include local transportation options, shopping, legal services, language classes, job postings, housing, and so on. There is similarly a world forum where you can access posts by expats the world over or start your own thread. When available, there are country and city guides for you to read at your leisure. However, there is no city guide as of yet for Guadalajara. Additionally, there is even an expat magazine with online articles for you to peruse. Members occasionally submit articles of their own to this publication.
What’s more, you can subscribe to certain activity groups aligned with your general interests and attend events held by those individual groups or monthly events put on by the InterNations Guadalajara chapter and selected by the local “Ambassador”. Examples of activities put on by individual groups include bowling, karaoke, wine tasting, arts and culture, and business networking. If none of the existing activity groups inspire you, feel free to create your own.
The catch to signing up for a special-interest group, you will find out, is that you can only attend their events for a short trial period before having to upgrade your basic membership to “Albatross”, a paid membership. As a basic member, you can always view the special-interest events but as your trial period expires, you will no longer be able to view any details about them, such as location. Yet, as a basic member, you can always attend events for the Guadalajara community as a whole for as long as you are a member without upgrading to “Albatross” (these events are scheduled by the local “Ambassador”). Just be aware that you will need to pay an entrance fee. Upgrading to “Albatross” opens up additional membership features such as the waiving of these local event fees.
Finally, among the benefits that you can take advantage of are exclusive special offers from companies that market to InterNations or with whom InterNations has partnered. For instance, InterNations counts as its global partners the airline Lufthansa, the health insurance provider Cigna, the bank HSBC, and the money-transfer service, TransferWise. As we wrote about previously, they recently threw their weight behind EasyTaxi, a taxi-ordering service with a mobile application.
There are many ways to get your feet wet once you arrive (or even beforehand) in Guadalajara, and InterNations makes for a good arrow in your quiver. Volunteer work, attending classes or conversation clubs, and just getting out into the city and doing things can be great as well. We say use all the tools at your disposal, especially since basic membership with InterNations is free. Sign up and give it a whirl!