So much has been written about expat friendships…

I dedicate this post to all my friends old and new…

Friendships take years to establish. Basically, friendship, the kind that remains intact through all of life’s ups and downs, marriages, babies, divorces, etc., requires a foundation those experiences surely formed what is now the foundation of a friendship guaranteed to stand the test of time, right?? And foundation requires time Memories made with that person can’t be taken away. My childhood friends will always be in my life. I’m grateful that they still talk to me regularly.

I have read so much about it and even visualized it trying to prepare myself in the event that my own friends return to their own home countries or move elsewhere.I know it might seem like an odd thing to do, but I somehow felt that if I did this I would be better prepared for the eventuality.

Nothing could have prepared be for the numbers in which they left.

With some I had time to “adjust” my mind to it and others just so sudden.I have been asking myself what’s the point of making new friends when they or you might leave?

As an expat (out of choice), you “forge” so many friendships in your home country, friendships and bonds that lasted almost the same age of your adult children.The excitement of the first skype with your family and friends back home, sharing just about every detail, the giggle and laughter. Although living in the 21st century, technology makes things feasible that were considered beyond the bounds of possibility one hundred years ago. With time expats relate differently to their old friends and family back home, which can be problematic at times, overcome with the feelings of missing out, not being involved and not understanding what is happening aren’t unusual , these are all part of the “separation anxiety” process. The skype calls soon become less frequent and you build new friendships out of necessity.

While you might be preoccupied about how to complete your residency process or opening up your new bank account, getting a car, your friend at home might be going over her plans of her next friends gathering or trying to plan her next holiday.

With the friends back home there are basically two outcomes. You might meet and it’s as if you just saw each other a week ago and everything is as it was before you left the country — one of the greatest experiences! In my opinion those friendships that survive the distance are the friendships that will last for a lifetime, no matter if you have contact every week, every other month or less than that.

And as with all expats, you’ll need to readjust, too, when you come back home. While you are generally still the same person as before, your life might be completely different in your home country, which can complicate friendships.

Another possibility is that you encounter your old friend, but you don’t really relate to each other anymore. Too many things have changed, let alone the friendship. Losing friends is, unfortunately, part of being an expat, and accepting that can be tough.

Having said that, while making the most of your time abroad by default you gain a new sense of identity, sometimes struggling to redefine and assimilate back into our own society

Now the challenge behind Expat Friendships?

One of the best things about being an expat is the friendships you form with other expats and locals of your new country of residence.

Expat friendships form fast. Imagine feeling isolated in a foreign country, everything is different, you’re homesick, when suddenly you meet someone who looks like you, acts like you, and misses the same things as you. Of course, you’re going to be friends. Usually, when expats arrive in their new country of residence, amidst the sometimes chaotic orientation process and the adrenaline, they forget fear and inhibition, becoming bold and outward trying to find their space and eventually mark their “territory” all the while “making” new friends, first the local supermarket who will lead you to the nearest Laundromat and the pharmacist and so on… sometimes your first friendships are made during these visits and slowly you make new ones at work or as you explore the social scenes, this process takes awhile but you finally make one or two really awesome friends – friends you feel like you’ve had your entire life.

You do everything with them, you travel together, navigate your new surroundings together, help each other deal with the culture shock, you confide everything in them, share your good and bad moments it doesn’t matter if you don’t really have much in common – all that matters in you’re both in the same place at the same time, for others who already have friends in new country of residence they are afforded a softer and more pleasant beginning.

Well, you’ll probably try to stay in touch. It’s going to be difficult to maintain the same level of friendship you had before, no doubt.

Being overwhelmed by sadness, followed by the need to become a recluse it is all understandable and it is all part of the process.

This could translate into projects that you immersed yourself in completely and enjoy it, yet when it’s over you feel exhausted have withdrawal symptoms and eventually settle back in. This does not stop you from getting involved in new projects, you go back head first and so it continues…..

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A South African currently living and working in Qatar always striving to contribute towards the “change” where emails will be short, love letters brave and every “thank you” note be hand written! As I move through life, I want to share my experiences - the interesting places I am so fortunate to visit, the amazing people I meet and the profound moments I am blessed with. When I am not working, you can find me watching Pretty Woman or Devdas for the 101th time, I watch obscene amounts of television without a trace of shame, surf the net, visit main stream or boutique hotels, restaurants and street food vendors, specialized coffee shops or the local karak drive through stores, High end stores to 5Riyal stores, Home Interior Stores or drive aimlessly looking for inspiration for my next post, the ultimate photo opportunity or simply write about what captures my imagination.

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