While Nanjing is well-known for its substantial expat community, upon first arrival, it's still a bit difficult (and sometimes intimidating) to know where to start looking for it. Not to worry! Read on for an introduction to a few of the bars, clubs and activities where you can easily meet other friendly expats.
1) Bluesky Bar 蓝澳西餐厅 View In Map
Bluesky is an Australian-style bar located on Shanghai Lu, one of the main social areas in Nanjing. The bar is extremely spacious and serves a wide range of Western food and drinks. Beyond this, however, it plays host to a number of social activities that you can easily get involved with by inquiring at the bar. The "Philosophy Corner" takes place every Sunday evening in the restaurant area and is an informal, friendly opportunity to meet new people and discuss philosophy. Every Wednesday and Sunday there are pool tournaments (with cash prizes) that are open to all. Victory also guarantees your name being permanently inscribed on the "winners board". In addition to these weekly events, Bluesky holds special meals and parties for certain occasions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Again, these events are open to all and the crowd is extremely welcoming of new faces.
Add: 77 Shanghai Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8663 9197
Opening hours: Sun-Thu, 10:30-02:00; Fri-Sat, 10:30-late
2) Ellen's Bar 艾伦咖啡 View In Map
The extent to which Ellen's acts as the social epicentre for many Nanjing-based expats, especially those in their early twenties, cannot be overstated. As a result of its central location (and wonderfully cheap alcohol), the bar tends to act as a default 'go-to' for young expats looking for a good time. Keep in mind though, of all the places and activities recommended here, Ellen's will require the most effort on your part – that is to say, you're going to need to drink quite a bit. Once this is achieved, you'll be astonished at how easily you meet expats here, whether it be through sharing mild banter at the bar, or drunkenly cascading toward other people's tables. To help with the necessary social lubrication, Ellen's offers free beer on a Thursdays at an event that has imaginatively been christened "free beer Thursdays".
Add: 132-133 Guangzhou Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8364 1119
Opening hours: 09:00-late
3) Football/Soccer Teams
There are quite a few expat football teams in Nanjing, including team "Talking Bar", foreign students from Nanjing University, as well as a team organised by teachers at the British School (www.nanjingfootball.com). All of these teams are extremely welcoming and happy to accommodate new players, and the atmosphere is more social than competitive. The quality of football is decent enough to make this an enjoyable extracurricular for any foreigner studying or working in the city. The above website holds tournaments twice a year that play host to a number of teams, and provide what might just be one of the largest gatherings of expats in the city. Games tend to be played on evenings, and any hopes of grass must immediately be quashed – nothing but astro-turf here. Nevertheless, joining a football team is great for both fitness and meeting other expats.
4) Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Club
There's also a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu club that runs four times a week at the Olympic Sports Center, which similarly caters to both the fitness enthusiast and the socialiser. The club consists almost entirely of expats, led by a highly qualified English grappling champion. Both men and women attend, and each session manages to be both instructional, enjoyable and, most importantly, safe. For those unfamiliar, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is a martial art that teaches how smaller, weaker individuals can out-smart bigger, stronger aggressors. The group sometimes plays host to a black-belt champion from a nearby city, and also hosts other social events on occasion. Needless to say, there are few ways to get to know someone better than rolling around with them on a mat for several hours. Also, while visiting the Ju-Jitsu club, be sure to check the other available activities at the Olympic Sports Center, such as swimming, tennis, squash, badminton and many other sports.
Add: Nanjing Olympic Sports Center
5) Alliance Francaise 南京法语联盟 View In Map
For expats who are French, French speaking, or merely aspire to some form of Francophilia, the Alliance Francaise will be a treasured resource for you here in Nanjing. Visit the Alliance Francaise to enjoy one of the many French films or books that the library has on offer. As a side-point, for those facing the painful uphill struggle of learning Mandarin, if you've had any past experience with French, why not come here to take a break from all that Chinese character memorization – settling in with a nice French film (with English subtitles) may be the most relaxing experience you've had in a while!
Add: 73 Beijing Xi Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
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