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What's been effective for me is to find ethnic people from whatever country abroad you're living in who are also American. For instance in Thailand I found a bunch of Thai-Americans and they were middle to upper class people who introduced me to a huge social circle. These aren't the typical American tools hanging out in expat pubs or backpacker slums getting drunk on cheap beer.
In let's say Korea it would be highly beneficial to seek out Korean-Americans who also speak the language and are cool socially connected guys.
I'd think it'd be the same anywhere you go..i'd look for those connections first. IMO the more closed off the country is the more important it is to find those insiders.
One warning though, if you get in good with these groups don't be a user or taker but be a provider in some way. Add value to the social network. Don't be a dick. If you screw over those specific asian-american or _insert ethnic_ -american communities abroad you can find yourself on the extreme outs really quickly.
There are a lot of ways. In Thailand, generally speaking there are usually popular hangouts for thai-americans. Certain places that draw an international crowd of young people. You start talking with people and you meet lots of other people. Easy. That's how I met my initial set of friends there. I saw that they looked asian-american and heard them speak english etc..
The other way is the internet. Search for blogs, forums, or whatever with those people talking about currently living abroad in those countries. See if they want to be contacted or are social people. Meet them and network from there. It doesn't matter what their occupation is as long as they are cool and up to socialize.
It's inevitable you'll run into female versions of what i'm talking about but it's no big deal. Just use them to network or treat them with cordial indifference if they are part of a social group. Usually they know their relative value there compared with the local girls and act accordingly.
Plenty of English speakers abroad, it's not a problem really.
Just go on wechat and seek out anyone with an English status update.
I quit my boring cubicle slave job and now I'm Happier Abroad...
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