One of the most rewarding things about being a blogger in Johannesburg is the feedback I get from Joburg expats and visitors. Over the years I’ve gotten many nice messages from people who used my blog to help orient themselves when visiting or moving to Joburg, and even from people who used my blog to help them decide to move here in the first place. Several of those people have become lifelong friends.
Potential Joburg expats frequently ask me about the best ways to connect with new friends and find things to do here. When I moved to Joburg in 2010, I didn’t have access to many resources for meeting people and it took me a while to make friends. I had a South African boyfriend to show me around the city, but except for him I didn’t get to know many people right away. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but looking back I realize that my first six to nine months in Jozi were pretty lonely.
Unfortunately I didn’t know about Internations back then. Internations is a worldwide community for expats, with chapters in cities all over the world and dedicated online portals for each city where it has a presence.
I’ve known about Internations since 2013 and my blog has been featured on the Internations website for a while. But it never occurred to me to join the community. I already have plenty of friends here, I thought, and I know everything I need to know. Also, I don’t really think of myself as an expat anymore. What’s the point of joining an expat community?
Then Internations contacted me and asked me to partner with them on a blogging project, and I went onto the site and checked out the Johannesburg events section. The first event listing I saw was the monthly meeting of the “Johannesburg Coffee Time” group, at a coffee shop one block from my house in Melville. It was a coffee shop I’d never been to.
Internations get-together at the Cuppa Café in Melville.
Ok, maybe I don’t know everything after all. I decided to give Internations a try.
So I went to the Internations Johannesburg Coffee Time meeting at the Cuppa Café in Melville. And it was delightful.
First of all, the group wasn’t only expats. There were South Africans at the table, along with Colombians and Americans and Basothos and Brits. I had such interesting conversations at this get-together. Linda is originally from Lesotho and pursuing a doctoral thesis on the physical remains of slaves in the Western Cape. Margaret is American, but has lived all over Southern Africa for the last few decades. She told us the most fascinating story about how her Polish father escaped from a prison camp in Kazakhstan during World War II and eventually landed up in New Jersey. Maria, who organizes the Joburg Coffee Time events, is from Colombia but moved to South Africa to be with her South African partner.
Second, the Cuppa Café — which is on Melville’s Main Road in between Koliander and the Meldene Mediclinic — is a charming little place and I’m happy to have discovered it via Internations. I’ve walked past the Cuppa Café a million times but had never gone in before. It’s a family-owned, locals-only joint with personal service and and a homey South African menu.
I was too hot for coffee so I ordered a fruitlata, which is basically a fruit milkshake.
A cappuccino ordered by the person next to me.
This tea spoon looks like it came right out of my grandmother’s kitchen.
Creamy mushrooms on toast with melted mozzarella cheese. The hot sauce is homemade by the café owner’s daughter.
Ellie, the owner of Cuppa Café.
If you’re planning a move to Joburg, or recently moved to Joburg, or even if you’ve lived in Joburg for 20 years, I would recommend joining Internations. Membership is free although you do need to pay a monthly fee in order to sign up for events and enjoy the full benefits. Depending on how many months you sign up for at a time, the monthly fee ranges from €4.95 ($5.50, or R86) to €6.95 ($7.50, or R121).
I really, really enjoyed getting to know the people in this group and I can’t wait for the next Coffee Time meeting. I’ll probably write more about Internations in the future.
This post was sponsored by Internations. Opinions expressed are mine.