The expat life is fun and exciting, and even after nearly three years, it never ceases to be full of surprises. One of the best surprises has been the friendships. When you’re physically separated from all your friends and family and even acquaintances, every familiar face takes on a new value. You make unlikely friends, who maybe, you wouldn’t have even given a chance back home where you’re spoiled for choice with few cultural or language barriers to contend with.
And you make likely friends too, who make you feel at home, even when you’re thousands of miles away. And each of these friends becomes so precious, because they are all that’s familiar- your “family” in a foreign place and a foreign culture. A friendship like this can become closer in the space of a few months than some friendships will ever be.
But the expat life is full of goodbyes, because not everyone stays- in fact most don’t. And while there are always new faces who can become new friends, there is no replacement for a person you love. The people who were easy to talk with and a pleasure to listen to, the ones you went to for encouragement and comfort, and the ones who needed you, too.
I remember when my brother and I used to delay our cousins’ departure as long as possible, keeping our parents chatting, and saying one more goodbye, giving one more hug, and then running alongside their car to the end of the block, waving frantically. They lived only a couple hours’ drive away.
So I tell myself it’s not that far, just a plane ticket or two and we’ll see each other again, and it will be another fun and exciting adventure. Goodbyes are still so hard!