Joining Meetup events is one of the greatest ways to interact with locals, understand cultures, and practice language in a relaxed environment. There are a lot of Meetup groups for sports, traveling, skills building, social etc. Here are some tips on how to do your research and make preparations for Meetups in China.
Do Your Research
Some people go straight to the events without any research. Without conducting any research you may not get the most out of the event. Let's take a look at how you can prepare for an upcoming Chinese Meetup.
Read the page introduction:
This may give you an idea about why other people have joined the group.
Check their previous events:
Take a look at members who joined the events, the ratio of native to non-native speakers and the vibe (atmosphere) of the event. Was it well structured or a a casual meeting?
Try different groups:
Find out the best groups for your Chinese practice. Some groups are mainly for sports, skills training etc, which are ideal for people want to understand the local culture better. But it means people there might not practice language with you. Or they might not not have enough time to explain language points to you during those events. If your aim is to practice Chinese, go to language events. Consider the event size. How many people join them? How many native speakers and foreigners? You will figure out the right one for you after you go to several meetups.
What if there are no Meetup groups in your city? Dont worry, if you can stay longer in that city, create a new one. And spread it via WeChat.
Learn how to use Some Apps:
Most Chinese people use 微信, WeChat, 百度地图, Baidu map and 嘀嘀打车, DiDi (Chinese Uber) if they are going to a new place.
WeChat is used to keep in touch with people and pay for goods in most stores and restaurants.
Similarly to Google maps, you can check for the detailed information of a destination, and find out how to get to your Meetup. Try to read the directions from the map or ask people to guide you to the correct destination.
If you give up on taking public transport, you can open up DiDi and get driven in style by a local driver. Remember to ask the Meetup organiser to give you the address in Chinese characters which can be found in Baidu map. Using these three apps will help you to get to the Meetup place easily.
Prepare your questions:
Take some notes about any questions you might have, or language points you wish to discuss before the event. Because meetups are not like formal classes, people might spend most of the time on random topics. It will be more effective for you if you bring your questions.
Prepare Some handy Chinese sentences:
If you arrive and freeze up, and struggle to maintain a conversation here are some examples of practical questions you can use:
Is it the first time that you've come to this Meetup?
nǐ dìyìcì lái zhègè huódòng ma?
What language do you want to practice?
nǐ xiǎng liànxí shénme yǔyán?
Do you want to practice language or make friends here?
nǐ zài zhèlǐ xiǎng liànxí yǔyán háishì jiāopéngyǒu?
How do you say it in Chinese?
zhègè yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?
In Chinese language, do you say “Have a nice day.”?
在中文里面，你们说不说 “Have a nice day?"
zài zhōngwén lǐmiàn, nǐmen shuō bù shuō“Have a nice day”?
What places do you like to hang out with friends on weekends?
zhōumò nǐmen xǐhuān gēn péngyǒu qù nǎlǐ wán?
Can I add your wechat?
wǒ kěyǐ jiā nǐ de wēixìn ma?
Well, one last thing is to enjoy your time there!