New Year's resolutions for expats in Istanbul

As the new year approaches, so does the long-standing tradition of making resolutions, a set of promises made to oneself for the betterment of various elements of our lives. While this could be anything from getting healthy or organized, learning a new hobby or fulfilling an aspiration, meeting new people to share these experiences with always helps and in itself is one of the most popular resolutions out there. So, get yourself on out there and mingle with the expat crowd whether it be to get healthy, meet others or fulfill a lifelong dream, the expat community in Istanbul has a number of organizations and activities that can assist you in making sure you keep the many promises you may be making to yourself at the start of the year. Getting healthy has always been one of the most frequently made resolutions across the board. As whether or not you are fit as a fiddle there is always room to improve in this regard and take it to the next level. Luckily, there are a wide variety of ways the expat community is getting active and you can too.

Cihangir Yoga, one of Istanbul's premiere yoga schools, has a number of expat yoga teachers regularly teaching at each of their three locations conveniently located in Cihangir, Istinye and Caddebostan. One of the most renowned yoga teachers in the world also happens to be an expat residing in Istanbul. Hailing from New Mexico, Chris Chavez has been introducing the practice here in Turkey for years now and will be holding a free and open yoga and new year meditation session for all levels on Jan. 1 for those thinking of picking up a yoga practice in the new year. The session will take place on Monday, Jan. 1 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will be held at the Cihangir Yoga center in Caddebostan.

Located in Yeldeğirmeni, Circuit Istanbul, a sustainably minded arts and events venue, not only has expats involved in the organization but they also run a number of yoga classes throughout the week.

Mix and Match is a football game series run by an expat and held every week on the Asian and European sides of the cities. Players of all genders, age and experience are welcome and you can join them tomorrow for a game in Feriköy starting at 8 p.m.

Getting out of your shell and fulfilling a lifelong dream of performing is another resolution that makes many people's lists. Many an expat also have hidden talents or, in other words, talents that are kept hidden from the very nature of their more mobile lives. It can take time to acquire an audience and a community of other fellow performers, whether it be playing music, doing stand-up, reading poetry or even getting published. Over the years in Istanbul, the expat community has managed to create a number of outlets to hone your skills in the performing arts.

Speech Bubbles is an English-language theater group that organizes two big musical productions and fundraisers each year. While taking part in the all-age volunteer theater troupe will enable you to learn dance, singing and acting skills with a community of your expat peers, the weekend classes offered for children are also a great way for the younger set to begin gaining confidence and performing skills.

Spoken Word is Istanbul's happening "open mic" scene. Held every Tuesday at Arsen Lüpen in Beyoğlu at 8:30 p.m., Spoken Word Istanbul is a weekly event that allows anyone to take the stage and perform pretty much anything for a total of six minutes. "Take Me up the Bosphorus" is an English stand-up comedy organization that holds performances in English with comedians from all over the world, as well as hosts a monthly English-language stand-up comedy open mic night in which anyone can take the stage to give their routine a go. If you want to check out the scene from the sidelines first, then tomorrow Ephemerata, a comedy duo that have been gracing the stages with English language improv for years, will perform at Yota Sahnesi, located off İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu, starting at 8:30 p.m.

If you want to simply learn or practice public speaking skills, Istanbul also happens to have two active Toastmasters Clubs in English, the Istanbul Toastmasters and the Bosphorus Toastmasters. Every fortnight, they get together to pot their public speaking skills to the test in a safe, friendly and welcoming environment. If putting pen to paper is more of the your thing, then you may want to submit to the Bosphorus Review of Books, a bimonthly periodical started up by two expats that contains literary works on Turkey in English.

Meeting new people and making friends can be a daunting task for anyone, anywhere. But as an expat in a foreign city it can certainly be even more of a challenge. However, there a number of social outlets that facilitates socializing for foreigners. First and foremost, there is Inter Nations, a global expat network with branches in nearly 400 cities that organizes social events as well as special-interest clubs. While you have to sign up as a member to attend a majority of their events, there are four branches in Turkey alone that host social gatherings and have branched off into a wide variety of groups such as their book and running clubs, children's play groups and even a ping-pong team.

The International Women of Istanbul, or IWI for short, are also an active member-based organization for foreign women in Turkey that hold two main fundraiser events every year but also have a wide variety of special-interest groups and host regular daytime meet-ups for coffee and mingling.

Pub Story is a new interactive game and social activity that has hit the scene in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and even Bursa and involves a list of fun tasks that everyone in the designated venue takes part in. What ends up happening is you meet the hundreds of other players taking part in the night as well as make memorable memories of the fun times that are shared among strangers. If it is a romantic connection that you seek, First Sight Date organizes specially curated speed dating events with a selective guest list of participants that must speak English to take part, making it the perfect opportunity for expats to seek out a potential match.