Expats, Keep In Touch!

The dreading of emails, texts, chat and phone calls: this is one thing that almost every expat I talked to, mentioned at some point. And it is what I also felt almost a year into my new life after moving.

The dreading of emails, texts, chat and phone calls: this is one thing that almost every expat I talked to, mentioned at some point. And it is what I also felt almost a year into my new life after moving. What until then was completely normal: sending an email, texting or chatting, suddenly became the source of major anxiety. Because these were the only means by which I could stay in touch with people at home, and it only seemed natural that I had to stay in touch. One day I was still living at home, the next one I found myself at the new place. I kept updating everyone on what was happening, and I wanted to know all about my family and friends back home.

I Had A Life To Live

Then after a while I realized I was spending too much time writing emails, texts, and I was writing the same emails and texts to more people. But I had to study and to work, and generally, I had a life to live. So I tried something else: just going on with life, and once or twice a week “update” my people back home. But then they experienced the same thing, so they responded later, when they could. First days, then weeks passed between two emails. Then we started communicating randomly, sharing some things on chat, and keeping the “big ones” for the emails. This way the communication got fragmented, and soon we lost track of what we had already shared and what we forgot to mention. “Oh, I didn’t tell you about the new project I am working on? I’ll tell you all about it in the next mail” but then somehow we both forgot about it. And life went on, time didn’t take a break just for us all to virtually catch up.

Feeling Uneasy About Online Communication

I discussed this issue in length with one of my friends who lived abroad for eight years, then returned home, and experienced the same thing all over again, but this time with the people he left behind in the country for which he has left his home years before. And he said that all the online communication was making him feel really uneasy even though he was already familiar with this transition.

So what can one do in this situation? What is the best approach to this challenge? What can you do so you don’t feel that you are losing, or even worse, neglecting your friends? The first lesson I learned with regards to this situation was that people generally are more understanding than I tended to believe before. You don’t need to explain yourself that much, and the people who are really close to you, are the ones who really do know you. They wouldn’t have stuck with you for all those years, if this weren’t the case. They know that you care about them, and this connection between you is based on more than just words and constantly updating each other.

A Really Strong Bond Stays

Becoming an expat reorganizes your personal relationships, and you get to learn that a really strong bond stays, no matter how far away you are, and your relationship won’t get destroyed if you don’t talk for months. Your friendship after a certain time is not based on always knowing what the other one is up to. Real bonds go way beyond this, and when you become an expat, you will learn which of the bonds have the really deep roots.

Some Relationships Will Loosen

It is inevitable that some relationships will loosen, and you might even loose some people who were always around you back home. This is perfectly normal in my opinion. Our relationships are of all different sorts, and it is normal to have friendships that are not as close and sibling-like, but more casual. And it is a natural process that as life goes on, you lose some of these. As you grow older, you will have less and less friendships anyway, but those will be the real ones, and for this process you don’t necessarily have to move to another country, it’s more than enough to finish college and start working, start a family, etc.

Catching Up With My “Core” People

But moving certainly stirs this process up. You learn to let go of certain relationships and you grow fonder of other ones. For me the nine years I spent abroad definitely decided who my “core” people are. They are the ones with whom I picked up from where we left off almost a decade ago, when I moved from home. We have countless stories to tell now, and we have fun recalling our memories from these past years, the ones we didn’t get the chance to share with each other in the moment they happened. But this changed absolutely nothing in our friendship, and we feel just as close as before I moved.

Eszter Szűcs-Imre

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