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friendships abroad

Announcing May's Expat Blogger Brunch

With the success and general merriment of our last blogger brunch, Lily and I have already started organizing the May edition. Open to bloggers of all ages, expat, and blogging experiences, won't you join us on May 19th for brunch in Amsterdam? 

Just as a refresher, here are the aims of the brunches:

  • Generate a creative, social form
  • Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
  • Cultivate Social Media contacts into real life connections
  • Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
  • Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events

Sound like your cup of tea? Just be one of the first 15 people to RSVP by May 10th and you are in! Just send your reply to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

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Part Two of School Daze in Holland Series: You Better Like Your Classmates, You See Them Everyday.

The process for class scheduling in the Netherlands and the US, could not be more different. In the United States, students who are pursuing higher education are given the chance to make their own schedules. In the Netherlands, you are placed into a class, and you have the exact same schedule as the rest of the 25 people in your class. While the smaller class sizes are nice, and the chance to really get to know people well almost instantly is there. For someone who previously got to decide if she was going to make her schedule so that she didn't have 8am classes, or classes on Friday, if she was lucky, this can be quite an adjustment. 

In the States, if you were having a bad week, no one knew. You probably only had one class a week with a group of people, and your next class would be full of completely new people. Now, if I have a bad week, everyone knows about it because I have the same 25 people in my class for every single class. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to both systems. 

Advantages to US System:

  • Students get the chance to feel that they are in control of their education.
  • Students are allowed the opportunity to mingle and make connections with a massive group of people.
  • Students get to try out different things to really see if they made the right choice in their major. 

Disadvantages to US System:

  • It can be incredibly difficult to make new friends when you first get to college.
  • Large class sizes.
  • The feeling that you are unsupported by your classmates.

Advantages to Dutch System:

  • The ability to make friends easily, because of the sheer amount of time you spend together.
  • Smaller class sizes.
  • Every single class has to do with your field of study.

Disadvantages to Dutch System

  • You see the same people over, and over again. There is little chance to meet anyone else.
  • You have no control over your schedule. Which particularly sucks if you take two buses and a train to get to school and you have a four hour break between classes. 
  • For someone who had the freedom before, it can feel like a step back. The last time I was in school and couldn't pick at least one of my classes was 7th grade.

The jury is still out on to which system works better. I am pretty lucky in that I like most of my classmates. The two girls above are some of my favorites! However, if you didn't, it would be a long two years. 

What is scheduling like where you are from? 

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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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