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expat friendships

When Your Friends Leave, Reality in Expat Friendships.

Looking at the friends I have made so far in The Netherlands, most of them are fellow Americans. This was never my intention, but it makes sense, my only passable language at the moment is English, and we are all going through a lot of the same things. However, having your main friend group tied to another country besides the one you are planning to live in long term presents its a whole new set of problems. Being an expat for many is a very transient period, it is something they are trying on and eventually, most will probably move on. Either back to their home country or the will move elsewhere abroad. 

A few weeks ago, I had my first of what I am sure is many goodbyes to a friend who moved back to The States. To be fair, when I met her she told me that her and her husband were not looking to stay here long term. Neither of us expected her to leave as soon as she did. I am very thankful for the warning because I feel like I knew going in that the living in the same country part of our friendship had an expiration date. Not our friendship itself, just the both living in Utrecht part. I miss you Amanda!

Knowing that your friends might leave is just part of the living life abroad. Sure it is painful, but does that mean that you shouldn't make friends with anyone? My advice is to cherish the relationships you are able to make at any point in your life. If a friend does end up leaving, do your best to keep in touch, and look forward to the places you will now get to go visit. Speaking of keeping in touch, I owe some people some skype dates. Let's make them happen people!

Have you had friends leave? How did you deal with it?

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On Friendship: Concrete vs Circumstantial

Above is Hayley, Christy, and Me! My besties since I was 11! 

Thoughts on friendship have been racking my brain lately! As an expat, friendships are an integral part of your life, but forming new ones can be a incredibly difficult and pressure filled. I think I might just turn this concept into a series this month. Today's topic: Concrete friends vs circumstantial ones. What I mean by that is, people who will always be in your life no matter the distance, and those people who are in your life for a bit because your circumstances match up but as soon as either of you has a life change, you never hear from them again.  

Some people just can't handle any sort of long distance relationships. In college, I was incredibly close to a girl and when I decided to move back to Atlanta, she never spoke to me again. No matter how hard I tried to stay in touch. Believe me I tried! It really hurt for a bit, but eventually I realized that, we were just friends because of the circumstance of both finding ourselves in a University town we both didn't really belong in.On the other hand, I have friends who have moved away, gotten married, and various other life changes that you go through in your 20's, but who I could call tomorrow and we would instantly fall back into the groove.  You don't necessarily have to talk to them every month, but you both know that no matter what you will always be in each other's lives. 

When I moved from The Netherlands, I had decently large group of friends back home. A lot of them were co-workers from my job, so they could have very easily become circumstantial friends who dropped me as soon as I was on the plane. I am glad to say that for most this isn't the case. This time, unlike one of the 11 times I've moved in the past, it feels like I really haven't lost anyone, yet. Sure, occasionally we miss our connections, but I have made a concerted effort and so have they to keep our friendships alive. Will it be the same in a year or three? Who's to say, but right now I feel incredibly blessed that my friends have been keeping tabs on me. I do make it pretty easy for them with this blog!

So, what makes this time different than all the others? I honestly think I was pickier about who I allowed to stay in my life. When you become an adult, hopefully you get over the idea that you need to be liked by everyone and you concentrate on finding people who like you for you. Stronger friendships when you start out means you are more likely to continue on with them.

However,now that making new friends is a whole different ballpark during my expat life, will I make more circumstantial friends out of necessity? I don't have an answer for you yet, but the next part in the friendship series will be about the challenges that face a newly arrived expat when it comes to making friends. 

Me and JT one of the first times we hung out

I love and miss all these ladies! 

I couldn't include all the ones I love, so if you aren't pictured it doesn't mean I love you any less! It probably just means that I don't have a picture of us, I was really a photo slacker the year before I moved! 

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 11: Someone I Talked to Today

All friendships take work. But, when you move across the planet and leave behind a great group of friends, you make sure you make it work. You need a good support system behind you. While I was not naive enough to think that I would continue to be as close to everyone I left behind, I do have a group of people that I work hard to talk to be it Skype, g chat, Facebook chat, whathaveyou, that I make sure and talk to on a regular basis.  

One such friend is Katie. I met Katie through my old job. The one great thing about that job was that it allowed me to meet some really awesome and talented people. Katie is a very opinionated person with a love for animals. She even has a blog called Life with Arie, in which she blogs about different pet related things and her adorable white German Shepard. 

The last time I saw Katie, she pretty much threatened my life if I didn't keep in touch. I'm glad to say my life is not in danger. If you are thinking about becoming an expat, I suggest you hang on to your support system back home. They are a bright light on the lonely days you are going to have! 

 

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