Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country, where you don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language, and everything seems so strange? You have so many questions but you’re not really sure who you should ask, and you’d like to meet others who are in the same shoes. This is is what inspired the founders of InterNations, a community where expatriates can connect and exchange information.
“InterNations is the world’s leading network for people who live or move abroad. InterNations enables expatriates to get to know other people when moving to other countries. We are now operating in 390 cities around the world. So, basically, members can find relevant information and meet other people, make new friends and have an easier start to their new life abroad in every existing country,” said Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck, summing up the essence of the organisation.
Prior to founding InterNations, Malte Zeeck worked as a correspondent and television reporter for international broadcasters such as CNN International, N24, n-tv and ARD. While reporting from various countries he experienced many of the challenges related to being an expatriate.
“I loved being a reporter, but during my job I used to live abroad and travel quite a bit. Every time I moved abroad I found it a little bit hard to get started. For instance: I moved to India, to New Delhi for some time. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t speak the language, the culture was very different from what I was used to, and I thought that there must be an easier way to get started and there must be other people in the same shoes. And that brought me, and also my friend, Philipp von Plato, who I started the company with, to the idea of InterNations. We studied business together and were passionate about entrepreneurship, about starting our own company or organisation one day. When this idea came we knew that it was the right thing to do because it was what we were passionate about. So that was when we decided to build up something on our own and see if it works.”
[box] The three founders have all lived and worked abroad. Like many other expatriates, they noticed how tiring and time-consuming it could be to gather all the necessary information before moving to another country and build up a network of social and professional contacts at their new location. This is how they came up with the idea to create a platform where people who were in the same situation could share their experiences and learn about the different countries and cities. [/box]
“After launching the website it was all about trying to get all these people on board. We invited our friends, they invited their friends and so on, until it eventually became a viral mechanism. That’s how it got kicked off.”
But what about the expat community in Budapest?
“The Budapest one is definitely one of the very active, lively city communities. We have around twelve thousand members here in Budapest at the moment and they are regularly coming to our events. We usually organise four events every month, but in addition there are also around 40-50 groups that organise regular activities, where members can share their hobbies. So one might be going out for dinner, the other might be going out to dance salsa, and another event might be about running. Anything goes. That’s what makes every city so special; they add their own local flavour to the programmes,” said Malte.
Expatriates and global minds interested in joining InterNations can do so by registering at www.internations.org.
“Anyone can join our community through our website and register. We have an approval process to make sure that InterNations remains a community of trust, where people are using their real names and real pictures.”
InterNations also organises a worldwide Volunteer Program with local groups that involve over 17,000 members who donate their time and talents to people in need.
“We now have 2.3 million members all around the world. Expatriates usually live a very privileged lifestyle, they have a good education, good jobs and good incomes. But there are many people in need. So the idea behind our Volunteer Program is to use this huge number of people and make them do something good. We have Volunteer Groups in around 35 cities to support a different project in each city,” said the founder about the Volunteer Program.
[box] How the Albatross Became the Symbol of InterNations? A logo can be like a symbol. It carries a message for those who created it and those it was created for. The InterNations brand is built on two principles: it’s global, and it is about bringing people together. But InterNations members are not just any kind of people: they are expats and global minds. We wanted to find a way to reflect this in our logo, to find a symbol to express that international life style. And this is where the iconic albatross comes in.[/box]
“Everyone is free to join and get involved with InterNations, as it only works with the involvement of our members. That’s the beauty of it and that’s also why it’s such an active community, because people get involved in real life. It’s much more than a simple networking site.”
Lastly, what does the future hold in store for InterNations?
“There are about 50-60 million people out there, all of them expats. Our goal is to bring more and more of them together, to spread the word and to have an even more active community life. On the other hand, we would like to address more of the needs of our members, because moving abroad is not only about making new friends and finding information, but also about solving practical issues, like finding a moving company, an apartment, opening up a bank account, maybe getting a visa, etc. So, basically, we want to help you all the way, if you’re moving on an international level.”
If you’re interested in joining a community with a fascinating international atmosphere and friendly faces, make sure to check out www.internations.org!
Copy editor: bm
Source: Daily News Hungary