23 February 2013

Social at 70 with InterNations in Russia

Tactless but true...

“I guess you’re the oldest person here”, a man from Central Europe said glibly.  I was chagrinned, as I have rarely thought of myself as looking that old.  I had just arrived at my first InterNations Get Together, this one at the Liden & Denz Russian Language School in St Petersburg center.

My Global Mind...

The comment was off putting, but didn’t lessen my enthusiasm for InterNations. It’s purpose is to socialize, thereby ‘Connecting Global Minds.” Unlike other organizations, InterNations emphasizes meeting in person more than mainly communicating on the Internet.

Before male expatriates had no such group as provided by the IWC, the International Women’s Club, which continues to be an excellent option for women.  The IWC is expensive and can have a rarified club-woman atmosphere.  InterNations  welcomes men and women of all ages, with no restrictions as to whether you are a local or an expatriate. 

A full membership works out to around $5.25 a month and includes monthly get-togethers with free food and two drinks!  Part of the costs are carried by sponsors for the monthly events. 

An outgoing group...

I joined InterNations a few years ago but only started attending some meetings last October. 

InterNations was the idea of three friends in 2007.  Now it is run by the founder, Malte Zeeck of Munich..  Its expansion now includes 300 cities worldwide, including 35 just in the United States!  They have most of their meetings in bars and restaurants.

Most of the men wear jeans, shirt, and sports coat.  The women, typical in Russia, are more elaborately dressed, and include many Russian women in their twenties.  The hot food and hors d'oeuvres were lavish.

My faltering  Activity Group attempt...

This fall I started a Book Club activity group.  I wanted to see if through InterNations there could be a local subgroup that would enjoy and swap books.

Our first author was Agatha Christie.  We met twice to talk over her writing, once at the English language Mayakovsky Library on Fontanka, another time in a hotel lobby.  I couldn’t generate much interest, so I resigned as book club leader.

Friends in high places are hard to find...

In November we had our get together from the 18th floor of the Azmut Hotel with a scenic view overlooking downtown St Petersburg.  I was planning to meet some Book Club members, as well as a few Scots, and figured I’d recognize them by their name tags.  First, I headed for the scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, planning to find people after having my vertical supper.

Suddenly the hotel management turned out most of the lights so we could get a better view of the city.  Under cover of darkness, more people lit up.  The resulting smoke in the darkened room  made reading name tags impossible!

Take the leap!

As people get older I think it’s sensible to put more money into convenient transportation than in earlier years.  When I go to a meeting I take the metro and walk, but take a taxi home. 

It’s never too late to join a good group, but I especially encourage younger readers to jump in the fun and give and get the most they can from InterNations and not wait until they, too, are the oldest guy in the room!

Questions to cogitate...

Is there an InterNations chapter near you?

How do you feel about smoking during a meeting?

Has your age ever made you feel a little out of place?

Comments and Emails...

I much appreciate your comments.  They’re encouraging! Also, you may send an email to me, or connect with Facebook or Twitter, using the ingenious Wibiya strip below.




  1. Oh my goodness, I also said to Anton that I wanted to start a Book Club, but then somebody else did. I guess that was you! How crazy.

  2. Hi Robert - As always an interesting post. I had never heard of them but yes they do exist in Spain. Smoking here would be illegal unless we were outside. I think this law is now in force in most of the EU. I tend to be one of the younger Expats so rather than feel too old I sometimes might be too young! Keep us posted on the prgress of this group, and I like the sound of the suppers!


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