Here is my 5 minute brain dump as part of this great series. Here goes …
I’ve been an expat all my life. I was born an expat. As a child I hated the holidays. Everyone would go back “home” and some would not come back. Transience was just a part of life. Friendships were always intense even if they could never stand the test of time. However, many did. I now have friends on every continent and social networks have helped me get back in touch with many of them. Often we just pick up from where we left off. Some naturally remain avatars in my friend list on facebook and that is cool.
We need friends. We are social creatures. Do we need an army of BFF’s? No. That would be too hard to manage. But we can’t just hold on to the friends of the past. Socialising online and Skype serves a purpose but I crave human interaction in its rawest form: face to face.
All too often expats seem to live somewhere, create a life only to hit PAUSE the minute someone “better” or from the past descends on their life abroad. Replies to emails usually read “So busy with XYZ from home visiting! Can’t meet up until after they leave” or invitations are turned down because someone else is around. Someone better.
Waiting to go “home” always makes me wonder what they see the country they are residing in as? It’s not a holiday – you don’t usually pay tax and stay on holiday for years. I guess not having a home makes this concept a bit abstract.
I love getting people from all over together. When a friend visits I usually have a party. I like mixing past and present – it leads to a possible future. Perhaps even a more interesting one.
So there you have it, are expats fickle friends? Are you guilty of hitting pause?
This is my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
- Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
- Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
- Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
- Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
- Link up your post at all.things.fadra.
- Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.
Interesting post Ameena. You’ve hit the nail on the head as to why I don’t have any “expat” friends…
The last 2 years, i have been living in the USA, and its hard! I have met so many different people but haven’t kept in touch with everyone. I have good intentions, but life sometimes gets in the way!
“hitting pause” when someone is in from home…GUILTY.
“not thinking of the country I live in as ‘home'”…GUILTY.
My expat friendships are far more superficial and transient. Someone (including me) is always going home (ironically I have a friend who went back to the US for 3 weeks and will get back to Singapore on the day I leave to go the US for almost 4) and it’s often months before we see each other again. Our kids are on different schedules (they have morning kids, I have a night owl) and also different school schedules.
Some of this would still be an issue if I were home, but my friendships back home are built far more on foundations that existed before I had kids. Here, a friendship is often “hey you’re american and you have a kid…let’s hang out”.
I think social networking is a blessing and a curse. When I lived in France for a month in 2000, there wasn’t even email for most of my friends. So I had to make social connections locally. Now, I can blog/email/fb/twitter/text/skype my friends back home. I don’t need to find “new” friends, so to speak.
Living in Singapore…I like it, there are positives, and I’m happy to be here for a bit longer. But I know it’s not forever, so part of me is far more invested in “home”–Boston, the East Coast, the USA.
I never thought of it before, but I suppose that being an expat might provide sort of a challenge of trying to figure out where home really is.
This post has been playing on my mind… it’s as if you’ve nudged me and I’ve now realised exactly why I’ve never sought out expat friends.
When I first came to France I was very alone. Not speaking the language it was difficult to make friends. I became very close to an Algerian student who was here studying medicine, she was supposed to be here for 5 years however, mid-term she disappeared. I eventually found out she had been summoned back to Algeria for an arranged wedding. I was devasted that she had not told me and had just vanished off the face of the earth although I understand that she may have been upset and embarrassed. Her future had been stolen from her.
The friendship meant a lot to me, we did everything together and lived just across the hall in our student residence so I felt a gross deception. The value I had placed on the friendship was onesided, I never heard from her again and eversince I’ve been wary.
I angled this post to expats but I do feel lots of people, even those who move to different cities, do the same thing.
When I was at Uni a lot of my housemates would drop their life a Uni like a hot potato the minute someone from the past came over.
I hope you don’t mind, but I (with credit and a link)had to ask this question to my readers as well. I can’t quite get the question out of my head…
Why would I mind? I love it! Great post!
Great post. For my 12 years of living in France I tended to avoid traditional expats, although a lot of my friends were/are non-traditional expats who, like me, fell into living in Nice after university. The relationship with an expat is always a different one due to the situation everyone is in. Thanks for the post 🙂
Thanks Sophie – I guess I was born an expat so I try to seek out those with similar backgrounds (next to impossible!) and end up disappointed.
I used to only hunt out non-French or French only friends when in Nice at different times. Now I’m happy to find people I enjoy spending time with and I try not to worry about how long they might be around for.
When I lived in France I was convinced I was there for life and now I’m back in the UK so I’ve given up predicting who might be where and when!
That’s so true!
Certainly I think expats are fickle in their friendships, but I think to an extent, many friendships are really. I’m a firm believer that people enter our lives for a reason: their purpose may be to stay in it for life, or to merely pass through..bringing, teaching, showing us something on their way. One thing I’ve learnt is to take a while to call someone a friend. Acquantainces drift away but friends just float around…distance means little these days and real friends can always come stay.
A thought proving post – thanks for sharing.
Yes, expats can be fickle. The degree depends on the person. Where I was there was a large expat club. New people always coming in. Most of us were welcoming and inclusive-always eager to help. But even after being in one place for many years and hving developed solid friendships, I was always insecure how a new expat would change the dynamic. Often it did- good and bad ways. That is one reason why I often felt expat life was too exhausting. Then there were some people who did seem to drift off when someone more exciting came along. That could hurt. Its a unique life but still much more welcoming than returning home. People don’t need u/want u.
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