• Morgan Fagg

A World Full of Strangers

Updated: Jul 14, 2018

An Englishman, a Frenchman and an Irishman walk into a bar, well, more precisely, four hundred and two people walked into a five-star hotel and went to the bar on the thirteenth floor for an InterNations event.

Not just any InterNations event, but a special celebration of the international meeting group’s last nine years in Madrid where people from nearly 70 countries attended at the Silken Puerta América hotel.

The hotel’s website claims that it is “a meeting space which brings together different cultures and ways of understanding architecture and design”, but it was the view of Madrid and the world, that the 400 plus guests were there to see.

With so many international guests present, there were people who had just arrived in Madrid, people visiting Madrid, Internations members and non-members and Madrileños.

The idea for InterNations goes back to a decade when two German students, Malte Zeeck and Philipp von Plato, met while enrolled on an MBA program in Switzerland, back in 1997. Ten years later, they reunited in Germany and discussed their lives since leaving Switzerland.

Both men were always interested in meeting other expatriates and agreed that living in other countries could be difficult, because every time you arrived in a new city, you would have to start over again with regards to making new friends and new business contacts.

They wanted a platform to make expat life easier and nine years later with almost two and a half million members in 390 cities, co-founder, Malte Zeeck travelled to Madrid to help blow out the candles.

Zeeck, who himself married a Madrileña says, “Madrid is much more than just another city in which you can communicate with expatriates and go to events, it is a city full of expats, enjoying the sun and also the nightlife when the sun goes down”.

While the lights of Madrid could be seen from the thirteenth floor, the world was seen enjoying music and cake inside. As Irish poet, WB Yeats would say, “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met” exemplified by invitations for the event which reminded people not to be shy and to welcome new members and introduce them to their friends.

If you have never heard of InterNations, then visit www.internations.org where you can find pages full of information, events, groups and advice for people moving to or already living in Madrid.


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