Adjusting to the Transient Nature of Expatriate Friendships

Expatriates tend to have one thing in common, and that’s a bit of wanderlust. Expatriates typically like to travel and don’t mind moving. Some are searching for adventure; others are looking for their place in the world. Those who are looking for adventure tend to find the transient nature of all things exhilarating. Those who are looking for their place in the world tend to be looking for permanence. These two extreme views on life and the expat experience impact friendships because, interestingly enough, both types tend to move around a bit before settling in one place for an extensive amount of time. This can make building friendships hard.

Finding and keeping close expat friends takes stamina. It takes stamina because you must keep up with each new connection’s social media accounts. By starting the friendship with a social media component, you guarantee that you will be able to make a connection that is impervious to the effects of time and space. By building the habit of contacting friends via social networks, the relationship loses the urgency of proximity for familiarity. It is also a lot easier to learn a great deal about people in a very short amount of time, which speeds up the bonding process.

Social media is a great way to build interest-based friendships, as opposed to circumstance-based friendships. Circumstance-based friendships are work- or country-based, and when these things change, so does the friendship. Circumstance-based friendships rarely survive a change in circumstances, such as job or location. A great number of expats survive in expat bubbles, and I think this a great way to stave off culture shock and cope with the myriad of issues that come with living and working in a foreign country. The trick is to diversify the bubble. Seek out more than one expat enclave or group. This will help you make connections that are real and friendships that are genuine - real friendships that stand the test of time and distance.

Posted on 07 Jun 2015 04:30

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