Couchsurfing is mostly known as a worldwide hospitality of network of travelers who will let you surf their couch for free when you’re in town. But in cities across the world, Couchsurfers are busy organizing meetups, language exchanges, and holiday parties in their local communities.
One of the great features of Couchsurfing is that you can search for members based on what languages they speak, so making a local search for Spanish-speaking Couchsurfers is an easy option even if there’s no language exchange currently being held in your town. If you come across an active member who also speaks Spanish, reach out to them–you’ll be surprised how often people are open to meeting up for a coffee and a chat!
Meetup is another social networking site that posts local groups and locally organized events in communities across the world. Just type in your town and browse through the Language and Culture category: if you don’t find any active meetups, try expanding your search radius to include the nearest bigger town.
It seems like a lot of this sort of local organizing is moving from more specialized sites like Couchsurfing and Meetup to the site where just about everybody is active: Facebook.
Just type a phrase like “language exchange” in the search bar and filter the results on the following page to your current location or a nearby one, or browse through local groups to find one related to Spanish language, Hispanic cultures, or a local hispanophone expat community.
Local university, community college, or learning annex
Most educational centers today are built to serve diverse, international, and multilingual populations. Because they often host a great deal of both resources and expertise in language acquisition, they also frequently function as centers for language learning and cultural exchange.
The nearest university is almost certain to have a International Student Center or something similar where you can get in touch with different cultural and linguistic communities on campus. In smaller towns, adult education centers and learning annexes attached to libraries and high schools are often home to English classes for newcomers to the community, and thus a perfect place to look for Spanish speakers who might be interested in language exchange and making a new friend in town.
The nearest big city
Nowadays you can find clusterings of Spaniards all across Europe and the Americas, and Latin American communities spread as far and wide as Australia and the Philippines.
That means if there’s not much of a Latino community in your town, the bigger town up the road probably has a biweekly Spanish reading at the library and a killer authentic Cuban restaurant just around the corner.