In September 2007, InterNations first went online, and September is therefore our official “birthday month”. So, in honor of our eighth birthday, we would like to share eight essential or unusual facts about InterNations with you.
1) From CEOs to interns, we know what it’s like to be an expat.
Our founders, Malte and Philipp, met long before InterNations. In 1997, they became friends during an MBA course in Switzerland. After sharing the experience of living in an international environment, both went on to work abroad after graduation: the one as a television reporter, the other as a consultant.
Meeting again, a decade after their freshman days, they realized they now had the experience of expat life in common — exciting, but nerve-racking too. Thus the idea of a place for all expats to turn to was born.
The international background is something most of our team members share: expatriates, exchange students, interns, globetrotters, or overseas volunteers — we’ve all been there.
2) We are based in Germany’s most international city.
Munich isn’t only an important business location for the German ICT sector, but it also has the country’s most international population. Which makes it perfect for both our head office and our local InterNations Community.
The Munich Community hosted one of the first InterNations Official Events ever, in early 2008; by now, it unites 43,000 members from virtually every country.
The famous beer gardens are just the icing on the cake.
3) Our expat communities span the whole globe.
Taking a look at our world map of InterNations Communities, we’ve noticed how wide our geographical reach has become. Among 390 communities worldwide, the northernmost is located in Reykjavik, Iceland, right below the Arctic Circle, while the southernmost in Christchurch, New Zealand, is almost at the ends of the earth.
With regards to community size, the differences are just as stark: our biggest community is based in bustling expat hotspot Dubai and includes over 60,000 members. In comparison, the smallest active InterNations Community in the beautiful Bahamas looks tiny, with about 300 people enjoying the beaches of the Caribbean.
4) Our iconic bird is a globetrotter too.
The symbolic animal in our company logo isn’t just any bird — it’s an albatross. Albatrosses are famous for traveling longer distances than any other species. Their life is one long journey, and by its end, they have often traveled millions of kilometers.
We hope that our members like the symbolism of the albatross just as much as we do: our office mascot is Al, a plush albatross in a gilded cage. Each month, team members can nominate their colleagues for the “Golden Albatross Award” to thank them for a job well done. The winner gets to share their desk with Al for the next four weeks.
(Just don’t tell anyone that poor Al is actually a seagull since we couldn’t find a toyshop selling cuddly albatrosses…!)
5) The InterNations team is (almost) as diverse as our member base.
I still remember the early days of InterNations when we were a small start-up with ten employees. Today, the team consists of around 100 staff members who represent 30 nationalities and are fluent in as many languages.
For obvious reasons, English and German are our two most widely used team languages, with French, Italian, and Spanish as popular runners-up. But if you need to find someone to converse with in Albanian or Arabic, Catalán or Danish, Hebrew or Russian, our office is the place to be!
Language learning is a favorite activity among team members and InterNations members alike. Our Munich Community alone features a dozen InterNations Groups dedicated to specific languages, while in-house German language classes are a popular benefit for our international staff.
6) And so are our interests.
Once a week, our largest conference room turns into a yoga studio: if you take a peek, you can spot twenty team members perfecting the Downward Dog or the Sun Salutation.
Working together, day by day, we realized how many hobbies we could share with each other — and have promptly started to do so, be it Star Wars movie nights, rafting, building a blog or learning to keep your poker face. We’re still sad that our unofficial ukulele guru will be moving back to Australia soon.
Looking at the InterNations Groups for our members worldwide, we have noticed an equally broad range of interests. Our Group Consuls offer activities for mushroom hunters, dragonboat racers, creative writers, budding poets, and disco bowling fans. (I’m not sure, though, if this involves dancing in a bowling alley or bowling in a discotheque.)
7) We keep tabs on expat life.
Unlike InterNations, the annual Expat Insider survey is only celebrating its second birthday.
But our “baby” has come a long way since we conceived the idea for an international overview of expatriate life in 2014.
No matter if you want to know the best destination for families with kids (Austria) or where the locals are friendliest (Myanmar), which place attracts high-income expatriates (Hong Kong) or where the happiest couples live (Ecuador) — Expat Insider has the answer.
8) We try to make a difference.
In addition to the regular InterNations Groups, we offer Volunteer Groups in 32 cities across the globe. Over 20,000 InterNations members now provide regular support for non-profit organizations.
What have we recently done to be proud of? We’ve started to help create a garden for a community crèche in one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas; we have organized a Singapore-based fundraiser for Cambodia’s first women’s hospital, and we have collected 1,200 hygiene products for refugees in Munich.
Global change always starts in your local community.
(Image credit: 1) InterNations 2)-4) iStockphoto; 5)+6) InterNations 7) Ayako Yamamoto/InterNations)