Expatriation and Friendship

As you may know, I am a big fan of Instagram. You can find me at rosekirby13. Instagram for me at least, is a happy place, a friendly place, a place where I can share what I am up to, what I like, what I feel. I love using it to see what everyone else is up to, where my friends are going on their holiday, what my mum’s new haircut looks like, what people wore to such and such, where people go when in Bali, and of course, drooling over photos of delicious food and “awwwwing” at pictures and videos of cute puppies – all in the same place – it’s almost magical. Ok I’m getting carried away.

As I was saying, Instagram is a place for friends, whether old or new ones made through Instagram – I’ve even heard of Instagram-born relationships. I recently saw, on Instagram the following quote “we must learn who is gold and who is gold plated” (by anon) and it got me thinking, an expatriation really clears the gold from the gold plated. You don’t even have to learn or try to work that one out. My expatriation has taught me who is gold plated and made me question who is gold. I have plenty of “real gold” friends that I love and adore. I don’t have to speak to them every day, but I know they are there and I believe the feeling is mutual. Of course, there are some I do speak to practically every day too. And I am making friends all the time during this adventure, expat friends, work friends, friends of friends, etc. Friendships dwindle, I’ve learnt that in my 26-years but there is nothing like an expatriation to see them dwindle away a lot faster and more obviously. I say this not to complain or to warn but to share, to prepare.

Slight side note: Friendships are a two-way kind of thing, like any and every relationship – I might add. I have tried my best and in some cases, made an extra effort to keep certain friendships “alive” let’s say. I have also tried hard to save friendships which have sadly already not stood the test of time. I hope that I am gold, if you are my friend, I am always here; I am eager to listen and not judge, support and love.

I recognised when James was on his first expatriation that many of his friendships strengthened. Whenever he was back in the UK, his friends made a sterling effort to see him, to make him a priority. His true friendships really showed. I guess it is easier for boys to know who their close friends are as most of them don’t “chit-chat” as much as some of us girls do. *I know, stereotype, but I take it from the evidence before me*.

This year, I have been back to the UK several times, but they have been for events. So-and-so’s wedding, family celebration, job interview and recently, just to leave the very same day. Unfortunately, returning for said events mean a weekend trip home is go-go-go. There is barely any time to give my parents a hug, play with my dogs or change clothes before I am off again. This is sad and something I cannot change because I have to get back to Brussels before work on Monday (which due to Eurostar timings means I have to take the Sunday evening train, however if I was leaving Brussels to get to work in London on Monday the Monday morning train is a dreamboat timetabling – holla Eurostar if you want some advice *clearly I’m also feeling a bit cheeky*). Back to my point, since my expatriation, I have felt that some friends do not appreciate how difficult it is to manage a weekend trip home. Yes I am coming home but I do not have any time to do anything I want – this makes me sad. Ok, it makes me sad, but also, back to the more positive side of my post, I have realised who my true friends are. They understand and sometimes they suggest meeting in the twenty minute slot I have at St Pancras. I appreciate that so much. I appreciate that I know who you are and I appreciate being your friend and I know how lucky I am that you are my friend and I wish that I could meet you quickly for an after-work glass of wine but I cannot, in fact I cannot meet you on Monday after work or later in the week or next week and that is something I still have not got used to yet. I miss these golden friendship but I know they will stand the test of time, or the length of my expatriation to be specific.

Top tip for those preparing for an expatriation, live everyday like it is your last as they really will be your last days at home. If you can make sure that you see the friend/relative/person you care about to say goodbye face-to-face, to make future plans, to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. I did this last December along with attending numerous Christmas festivities – including a fabulous going-away party hosted by a group of my best friends – I lived so much it made me sick *ok just the flu* but it was worth it.

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