Having never considered myself an ‘international woman’, I was a little reticent to join a group like this when I first arrived in Germany. However, since I had zero friends, more free time than I knew what to do with and a desperate needed to be around people who actually understood what I was saying, I paid up and joined. Little did I know that I was going to spiral down a rabbit hole of boozy lunches, bitchiness and life long friendships.
International women’s clubs can be a gateway to an international community, a well established group will have enough roots to support you until you find your feet. If it’s way out of your comfort zone, consider it, odds are moving abroad was out of your comfort zone too and you’ve survived that. Many groups have events which are open to prospective members, a good way to see if the group is a good fit without shelling out for membership.
Making friends as an adult is weird.
– Everyone there understands the weird awkwardness of trying to make friends as an adult.
Making friends in a country where you don’t speak the native language is hard.
– The language spoken is English, but others are in use too!
Making friends who will become your confidante, safety net and surrogate family is completely necessary.
– They get it. Whether you are in the country for 2 months, 2 years or permanently you’ll find others who understand the ups and downs.
Whilst these clubs are marketed at female accompanying partners and/or mothers you’ll also find working women too, roughly a 60/40 split at clubs I’ve been to, though I assume in other cities or countries the split is very different. What this does mean, is that events are planned for daytime, evenings and weekends, something for everybody? maybe 😉
Meeting people. Real people. Getting out of the house and making new connections can provide you with opportunities you never would have found alone.
Regular events. Book club, coffee morning, girls night out, English speaking tours, baby groups and volunteering opportunities, to name but a few.
Community involvement. Clubs generally have connections to the local area, so you aren’t limiting yourself to just the international community.
Leadership. An opportunity made for the accompanying partner. Use, and don’t lose those valuable skills from the workplace.
Age appropriate. Many groups have a large number of women in their late forties and cater for that demographic. They are however generally very open to new ideas, make yours known.
Cliques. Unfortunately this playground behaviour persists in some people, a sad fact for women worldwide.
Cost. A fee for membership will be generally be payable, somewhere between 20-45 euro, though you can find discounts if you join later in the year. Usually this means that some events will be subsidised so if you make use of the club you’ll get your monies worth.
Limited numbers. In clubs which have over 400 members an event with 10 spaces fills up fast, prepare to be disappointed if you aren’t quick.
If you want to find out more about clubs near you I’ve linked to some (there are plenty more out there) below, if you have any you’d like to be added please let me know.
Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Franconia, Hamburg, Hannover, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Munich, Stuttgart
Amsterdam, Bratislava, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Hanoi, Johannesburg, Lausanne, Lugano, Moscow, New England, Provence, Rotterdam, Sofia, Stockholm, Zagreb, Zurich
Clubs like this are just one way for women to connect and expand their social circles, they are most certainly not the only way. I hope that these clubs evolve to include the increasing numbers of male accompanying partners needing a new social circle too.
4 thoughts on “International women’s clubs”
Hiya. A very clear, succinct article. Oddly enough, I smiled at this article. Last September I was manning (I use this verb deliberately) our church’s stall at Düsseldorf International Welcome Day, when a lady from the American Women’s Club asked me if I’d like to join.
I told her, “I’m a man. I’m also not American.”
“Hey, don’t worry about that. You can still join,” came the reply. Strrrrrrrrrrrrrange.
To quote Groucho Marx, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”
Thanks. I’m glad to hear that men are at least welcome in some groups! And that whole German-American but you can still join if you’re neither is indeed strange, maybe they just need outsiders to make up the numbers 😉
Actually, Düsseldorf is very good for ex-pat clubs and organisations.
British Women’s Club (British and Commonwealth women only: no men.)
British Businessmen’s (sic) Club, open for any British ex-pats, including women.
Lots of English-speaking churches.
Lots of Facebook groups.
Bloggers group (I believe they meet up once a month or so).
Ex-pats cycling club.
English Library (with mums and toddlers story time.)
And if you ever want to help the Germans with their English-language skills, just sit and chat in a cafe or on the tram, and see how many of the locals stop what they’re doing to listen in on you. (See my article from a few weeks ago.)
Wow it’s all going on in Düsseldorf!