One of the hardest things for me when deciding to teach in Thailand was leaving all my friends behind. I was leaving a solid group of people who understood me, who I felt comfortable with and with whom I had countless shared experiences and stories. It was a big step, as it certainly must be for most people, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as I originally thought it would be.
Perhaps you’re also struggling with the idea of leaving your friends behind and making the decision to move to a foreign country. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry, and what you can expect from your friendships on the move.
Fast Burning Friendships
Relationships form quickly when you’re out of your comfort zone and surrounded by people going through the same experiences. While at home it might take a while to cultivate a friendship, to find that opportunity to invite someone out for lunch or coffee, it’s a very different situation out here. You crave familiarity and often times it’s found in the faces of fellow teachers who’re trying to find their feet in this foreign country. “Wanna grab dinner this evening?” becomes much less of a daunting question when the alternative is sitting by yourself staring blankly at a menu you don’t understand, surrounded by food you don’t recognise. Eating out turns from a chore to an adventure as you take chances with the menu and find courage with your newly found friend to try the chicken feet.
It doesn’t take much for dinner dates to turn into weekend waterfall adventures and eventually month long trips exploring a new country. In the space of a term you’ve accumulated more experiences together than you might in a year or more back home. Excitement, adventure and the unknown are the perfect ingredients for a friendship that builds quickly, and leaves a string of happy memories to look back on.
All Good Things
Sadly, while being away from the ordinary helps to build friendships, it is also the reason that they come to an end. People are always on the move out here and there’s always the chance that the people you’ve come to love are soon going to leave. Perhaps it’s just one of your new mates who’s decided to leave for South Korea, but there’s always the chance that your whole group will split ways. Don’t be distressed though, all that means is that you now have friends all around the world. You’ll have a couch to sleep on or a friend to help you build a new life where ever you choose next.
On and On
Whatever happens with the people you meet along the way, there will always be fresh faces to get to know, explore with and make new sets of memories. With each year you gain the experience and knowledge of the country you’re in to help out the new travelers who’re missing their homes and own set of familiar people.
If you do choose to bury your roots for longer than a year or two, then the people that stick around with you will become more than just traveling friends. They’ll become a part of your experience and through that, a part of who you become.