The topic of meeting people from the internet recently came up in a conversation. There's still some stigma on this - some of it rightly so. Of course a person could be totally misrepresenting themselves on a chat board or forum. Common sense, which I don't need to explain the details of here, should always prevail.
The nature of bloggers, though, is to usually be what we say we are. There are so many people on the internet now, too, that to be "from the internet" means very little and covers a huge segment of the population. It's not really very different from meeting people anywhere else. If anything, you know a little more about them before you even meet. It can be hard to meet new people as an adult. You spend the first part of adulthood thinking that the friends you already have are enough, and that anyone who is looking for friends must have something wrong with them to not have any already (sort of the "any club that would want me is not worth joining" idea). Then life changes, you move around, it gets harder to see your older friends. All of this is multiplied many times for someone who leaves their own country and finds a culture where you don't meet friends at work and struggle with the language. The internet is actually not a really bad place overall to meet people.
I was pretty reluctant about it at first and certainly have NEVER set out on the internet with the intention of meeting anyone. I have a "from the internet" story that would make your hair curl, but it's not my own story so I won't share it publicly. I have a personal one too; it's not as bad, but it could certainly put people off the concept. The first year I was here I skipped expat blogger meet-ups. The second year we decided to go as an excuse to hit Dresden, which we wanted to see anyway. And hey! Guess what? They were normal. (Okay, not boring normal, but not scary or creepy.) And easy to talk to, and funny. And if they weren't, the worst that could happen is that we broke off from the group and had a nice time in Dresden on our own. Same for any meet-up. Meet for coffee. If it sucks, it only lasted an hour and you never have to meet again.
Now there's been no turning back. Last year's meet-up in Bremen really solidified it for me: people from the internet, like people at large, are pretty damn cool, and I've almost completely forgotten that it can be a bad experience too. Bremen was a great time and we've met up with some of the same people again since then. Meeting up with a local blogger recently turned out to be fun, too. Now I'm starting to feel more awkward about not meeting people than meeting them!
All that to say: if you're an expat blogger in Germany, how about joining our meetup this year? The second round of voting on a location has begun, and it's come down to Munich, Berlin, and - gasp! - Heidelberg. Click the link - all you need to register and have a say is to be a blogger here. Who knows, you might meet a few people you really get along with, and if nothing else, you'll be able to commiserate with them on the ups and downs of life in Germany.