Expat Life in China: Groups You Can Join

Rachel Weiss
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
May 27, 2019

If you’re an expat living in China wondering what to do in your off time, never fear! There are so many groups and activities you can get involved with here. From sports teams, language groups, and book clubs to game nights, volunteer groups, and trivia evenings, most Chinese cities offer all kinds of activities that you can join to meet people and have fun.

Here’s how some expats in China have gotten involved in their city groups and organizations:

1. Kickboxing Classes at the Gym

I haven’t joined a team, but I have signed up for kickboxing in my city (Jinhua). They are happy to have a foreigner practice with them and make me feel very welcomed. I am so happy to have joined because I look forward to going to the kickboxing gym on my days off. - Regina Selorio (Jinhua, China)

2. Weekly Pick-up Football Games

"We organize 5 a-side football each Monday afternoon in Pukou area. It's a good way to keep fit and have some fun outside the office." -Johnny Bingham (Nanjing, China)

3. Language Exchanges

"I’m getting organized with a language exchange. Hopefully I can better my Chinese and help someone with English! I also hope to get involved with an animal rescue but I’m still trying to find one in Nanjing."

- Kassie Christopherson (Nanjing, China)

"I am not part of any sports teams. But I joined some classes at my gym. Although there is a language barrier, I have made a friend or two just from our sweat and tears! Nanjing has language exchange on Friday nights at Tap Planet bar and it could be a cool way to make friends." - Charne Spies (Nanjing, China)

4. Volleyball Leagues

"In Beijing there are lots of sports teams to join, like rugby, soccer, and volleyball. I play for a women's volleyball team that practices a few times a week and has games every weekend. The teams are sponsored by local bars so after games we'll hang out there. It's a great way to meet more people and have fun after work." - Rachel Weiss (Beijing, China)

5. Sports Teams, Trivia Nights, Book Clubs, and More

“There is a lot to get involved in here, just like back home! You just have to make an effort to look for things to do. I haven't personally played any sports, but I have friends that have played on soccer teams (or football, depending where you're from). I also have a couple friends in book clubs, but I'm not as interested in those. However, we do have game nights every so often!

A great way to get involved in things is by asking your coworkers and other foreigners you come into contact with. Many western restaurants will have nights specialized for expats including trivia nights and specialized prices, so those are great places to meet more foreigners, too. The more contacts you make, the more you will get exposed to in terms of China life! Making local friends will also give you lots of opportunities to discover things that other foreigners aren't aware of. This will also give you a better insight into the culture and social life here in China as well." - Cherice Neeley (Nanjing, China)

Joining Expat Groups in China

Even though you're away from home and in a foreign country, there are lots of ways to be active in your city! Besides joining sports and teams and language exchanges, there are lots of WeChat group for different events going on in each city.

Also check out your local city guides to see what groups you can join in your city, such as The Beijinger, The Shanghaiist, etc. You can also check out Meet Up, InterNations, and Couch Surfing for events and meet ups. 

What are you waiting for? Start making friends and get involved in expat life! 

Want to learn more about living and working in China? Read The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China

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