When you live far away, your friends become your everything.
They’re the ones who you got to know super quickly because expat life goes too quickly to let them develop slowly. They’re the ones you call to recommend a doctor or find out where to buy an obscure ingredient that you just can’t find. They’re the ones you have endless playdates with or meet for breakfast for “therapy” because, frankly, that’s what it was.
They’re the ones who understand how weird this life is and how wonderful it is at the same time. The ones who you get to do ridiculously amazing things with like charter a boat and sail off into the sunset, or drink champagne over brunch at Nobu or slide down desert dunes while the sand sings beneath you. They’re the ones you listen to live music with in a back street in Singapore, the ones who you count monitor lizards and monkeys with on a hike, the ones you discover new corners of your city with and the ones who drag you out on new adventures.
They’re the ones you find cool new bars and restaurants with, the ones you sing karaoke with and the ones you drink with on your porch until the wee hours of the morning.
They’re your emergency contacts at school even though you just met them last week and the ones who look after your dog when you move and the quarantine place is full.
They’re the ones who will be your temporary guardians should the unthinkable happens and they’re the ones that blink back tears and squeeze your hand a bit tighter when you talk about how long it’s been since you’ve seen your mum (brother, sister, nephews, nieces, in-laws, besties) because there really are no words for that but between you, you know you both understand.
They’re the ones you meet, often in the most unlikely of places (dog quarantine, mall bathroom and Facebook posts I’m looking at you). They’re the ones, however you meet, that you take one look at them and you just know you’re going to be friends.
Expat friends are literally your network, your support system and your lifelines and they make up most of what makes expat life so great.
I can’t even begin to say how lucky I have been been to make amazing friends in all the places I’ve lived. For sure, some of it is down to me. I always try to push myself to go meet new people even if I’ve been somewhere a while and feel like I already have enough friends. When you’re more established in a place, you get to be a bit more selective about making new friends but I try never to rest on my laurels – you never know when your new bestie is about to get moved and you’ll have to say goodbye (see my top tips for a good expat goodbye and all the reasons I won’t say goodbye lol). And some of the loveliest people I’ve met have come smack bang out of the blue (although usually about 5 minutes after we have arrived or 5 minutes before we are about to leave). But most of it is down to the fact that I have had the good fortune to meet some seriously awesome people.
I always leave a place wondering how I’ll survive without the friendship and support of my amazing expat friends. I always arrive in a new place wondering how my new friends can possibly live up to the last ones. And somehow they always do.
I love meeting new friends and catching up with old ones, I love that I’ve never met some friends in real life and others I’ve known since I was learning to walk. I love that my network is now completely global, and that I can walk into their houses anywhere in the world and immediately feel at home. I love knowing we can pick up exactly where we left off as if no time has passed.
Expat life is weird and wonderful and hard and fun and sad and brilliant all at the same time.
But the friendships are what makes it all worth it.