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The expat life 17 November 2014

Posted by uggclogs in Life.

Living overseas is fun, exhilarating, challenging. It opens your eyes to new ways of seeing the world, different ways of doing things. It sometimes helps you appreciate what you have and where you are from.

Sadly, one of the hardest things about living overseas is losing visibility. People simply forget about you.

Growing up, I did not have many friends. That was incredibly hard, and I could not understand why. I thought I tried really hard, but I never seemed to be popular. Not that I really wanted to be popular, but I did want to have and make friends. I remember crying to my mother about it, and I can imagine it would have been heart wrenching to her as well. For one year, I was best friends with a neighbour, but then she moved. Then, starting junior high, I made friends. Two friends. It was great, I had someone to walk to school with, to hang out with after school, to be up to no good with. Two friends I was very close to, and who I applied to go to France with. Who did not get in, sending me on this great adventure on my own.

I was shocked to find when I went on exchange to France, that I could make friends quite easily. That I was quickly accepted into a big and diverse group of friends, and that I could make friends in lots of different settings. It was a surprise, because I had assumed it was me. Turns out it wasn’t.

Then, upon my return, I made friends that I thought would be for life. Friends that saw me at my best and my absolute worst. Friends I would speak to about my innermost secrets and desires. Friends we felt we explored the world together with.

I went overseas again, and stayed in touch as best as I could. Email, mostly. And text messages. Phone calls were not really that possible on a student budget. Most Christmases I went back, so it was easy to reconnect. And most would catch up with me then. We all assumed I would come back one day. I mean, I left for a two-year study overseas, not life, right? I would be able to slot right into life where we left off.

But time got in the way. It has been close to thirteen years since I left to the other side of the world.

We drifted apart. Some would not have the time (or take the time) to see me when I came ‘home’. Most never visited. Some I no longer have anything in common with, and the long list of friends whittles down every year. I now only have a handful left. Some still invite me to weddings that happen, but I am mostly unable to go. Most don’t even invite me anymore, some don’t even tell me when they get married or have babies.

Emails are scarce, if at all.

The worst part is that I understand. It is exhausting to try to keep abreast with friends that you never see. Keep them up to date, care about their lives that are so different from yours. Facebook helps, but only marginally. Out of sight out of mind. And I understand. Perhaps they meant more to me than I did to them, because they represented a time in my life where I proved that friendship was something I was capable of. That I was not little ‘viggo-no-friends’.

Despite understanding, I sometimes feel sad about it, because I wonder whether we would have grown apart if I had remained. But if I am being truthful, we probably would have. If it is this hard to stay in touch via text messages, I doubt that we would have been better at staying in touch for a coffee if we were near each other. Maybe I have been trying to hang on to people who I would have naturally grown away from, despite them being wonderful, sweet, caring people? Just because they are no longer my friend, does not mean they are not good people.

And I have wonderful friends here. Granted, they never knew me at my worst. But is that a prerequisite for true friendship? They make me laugh and they are supportive, and some have known me for longer than the time I lived in Norway.

I do care for my friends, past and present, near and far. And they have contributed to me being who I am. What more could you ask for from a friendship?




1. Kirby - 19 November 2014

Being an expat is hard! I’m always impressed by how long you’ve done it for and how gracefully you handle it.
It’s funny how we keep friends from certain phases of our life. I really only have one precious friend from school, but then I have a group from uni and a bunch of wonderful friends (like you!) that I’ve collected over the years.
I think the true test of friendship is whether you can pick up after not speaking for a while and still connect (and laugh) with the other person. I feel that you and I have that—and will consider you a true friend no matter how long we go without speaking or seeing each other.
Having said that, I would love to talk to you more often and am hoping we can find a way to catch up soon! xx

uggclogs - 19 November 2014

Thank you dearest, what a wonderful comment for you to leave on my blog. I miss seeing you heaps, and yes, we should catch up soon!

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