Why International Friends Rock Our World
This is a shout out to all the amazing people we meet during our travels, and to all our friends we keep in touch with even though we live so far apart. Because you guys change our lives for the better. Those precious friends who don’t live next door, but you still send a birthday invitation to every year (in the desperate hope that they will come), or you now have to part from at the end from your travels. But no matter how large the distance sometimes is, the friendships that knows literally no borders and reaches over oceans enrich your life, and are the best thing you can have. And here’s why.
When abroad, they get you.
During you stay abroad, when everything is new, exciting and scary at the same time, your foreign buddy knows exactly how you feel. They would never judge you if you drag them to a local pub to get a little taste of your home country, or talk with them endless on the phone and show them pictures of your dog every day. They’re in this with you. The bond you form during your stay abroad, when you’re both exposed to a whole new culture and adapting to it while dealing with one or two lapses linguae, the mistakes you make will give you stories to laugh about years after your year abroad.
They teach you about the world.
It is more than exciting when your friend brings you this new sweet they brought from their home country, and even more exciting when you realize it’s not sweet but in fact chicken feet. With toe nails. Even though when you realize what this… fancy snack is and give it back to your Chinese friend (or you try it, in which case you earn a medal of bravery), you learn more about them from their local food.
Your vocabulary will be enriched (and by that I don’t just mean swear words). And, when they tell you about their childhood, the food they grew up with and their school system, their experience will become yours somehow. And you’ll look at their country with new eyes, because it is not just some abstract shape of a map. With every new friendship, you’ll think, “my friend lives there!”. You become connected to the world, and wherever you go, you’re international friends have an empty couch for you or have an uncle’s friend who could pick you from the airport – just in case things go amiss when you land.
They also have a whole different set of resources, and when you feel lost they might have the final spark you need. For example, I had no clue where I wanted to go to college, when my friend from Thailand recommended this university in Japan – and voilà, here I am, forever grateful for setting my gut feeling on the right track.
Reunions are the best.
After all the time you spend together during your year abroad, it will suck at first to not have your best friend as close as before. But, when you return home, you’ll see it has its perks to have friend living in different time zones – because whenever something is up, someone will be awake to give you immediate advice or lend you an ear. And even if you don’t talk for a while, when the Skype connection is established it will feel like nothing has changed and you can catch up on what has happened in your lives. And what I love is sending postcards to keep one another up-to-date where you are, and it’s a nice gesture to show, “I think of you. I miss you. We should meet up.”
And that’s where the fun planning begins! Planning a trip is always a hoot, but planning a trip to meet up with your friend? That’s a whole new level of excitement! Your horizons will keep expanding, you will see new places and be able to invite them to your home – and, in doing so, see your own comfort zone in a whole new light. They will always be there for you, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you will have a precious person looking out for you. After all, to steal some words from Henry Drummond: “Wherever we are, it is our friends that make our world.”