Fifteen years ago I wrote an article on friendship for PWs. (That link will take you back there.) But this seems like a good time to rethink the issues and take a fresh look at how we make and keep friends while living and working outside our home culture.
We might think that friendship is simple and automatic, but we soon find out that it’s more complex than we thought. Then add the pressures of our work and the quirks of our host culture. All of that makes friendship a challenge.
Many of us have watched the effect of social media on friendships. It is not uncommon to see a group of people sitting at a café table, all looking at their phones and clicking away. They seem totally unaware of their companions at the table.
On the other hand, there are others who would dearly love to have any kind of relationship with peers, but there are none within a 500 mile radius.
Kimberly Todd, writing for VelvetAshes.com, has some helpful insights about finding and developing friendships. Let’s look at a few of her ideas:
Anyone is a potential friend. When we first arrive on our host culture, we may look desperately for someone ‘like us’ to befriend. If we hold onto that measure of friendship, we will find ourselves very lonely indeed. But when we look at everyone as a potential friend, we will be surprised with the great variety of friends we can have. Not everyone will become a close personal friend, but each can fill some part of our need for friends. And, we help them stretch their friendship boundaries too.