by Vera Heijligers, Owner, Vera's Expat Resettling Advice
“And then she knew: that you could become homesick for people, too.” —Beau Taplin, "Homesick"
Here we go again. This is the time of year that we say goodbye to friends, places, houses and countries. For some, it’s just for the summer; for others, it’s more long-lasting and therefore more difficult.
Nowadays we can prepare for all kind of transitions — we research new places, we join Facebook groups, we go on look-and-see trips, we listen to everybody, we use social media and the internet extensively — but nothing can prepare us for the feeling of sadness when we have to leave these amazing friends we’ve made in such a short time. But (and this comes with a big “B”), as I always also told my kids when we left again: "If we wouldn’t have moved there in the first place, we wouldn’t have met them!" This kind of became my mantra over the years.
For me, the best thing in my 30-plus years of expat life is definitely the friends I’ve made, even if most of the time we end up living in different places. Expat friends become — much quicker than at home, in my opinion — the family you need in a new place.
It takes some effort, though, to maintain these friendships. We are quick to think, “Why is it always me who has to keep in touch?”
Just get over it. Grab your phone, send a quick Whatsapp and make a Skype date to catch up: it’s like going for lunch or coffee again! Making the effort is completely worth it. You experience different moments of your life with so many different people, and those are moments that only they may know about. That connection is what makes those short and sweet friendships so special.
A best friend may not talk to you every day. She might live in another city or a different time zone, but she’s the first one you call when something happens that’s really great or really hard! The distance becomes minuscule in those moments.
As for the “stayers," try not to get overwhelmed when friends leave. Remember, if it had not been for their moving, you would have never met! And keep your mind open to meet newcomers. You never know what next gem of a friend you might find.
So long, everybody, and may we meet again!