The unique nature of international friendships
I have super friends.
All my closest friends in Vancouver I made in grad school, which means that we bonded over language. We’ve all lived abroad, learned other languages, and continue to travel. The friends I made in Chinese class in my undergrad are the same; all have lived abroad. One of the great things about these friends is that travel is a given. It’s second nature. There’s never a “why” involved in the conversation. We know why.
The same goes for the friends I made while living in China; most of them have been back since or have travelled and lived in other places. Connecting over language learning is a unique experience; learning how to speak and express yourself is a vulnerable and exciting place to be, and you share a special connection with the people you do that with.
My social circle extends far beyond Vancouver. It’s glorious. But then suddenly all my local friends decide to take off at the same time: India, Korea, Mexico, Peru, the U.S. beckon.
An international social circle can hurt sometimes. It doesn’t allow for impromptu meetups or dinner parties or drinks out. It doesn’t accommodate daily chats or evening walks or bump intos on the street. You never know who you’ll get to celebrate birthdays and holidays with. Sometimes it feels like you’re looking at your friends through a strobe light: you see them at various points in their lives but you’ve missed out on how they got there.
But an international social circle is one of the most rewarding forms of personal connection. It’s based on a shared understanding of elastic borders and malleable identities. It thrives in spaces beyond the physical. It’s timeless.
I miss my friends. But I’ll leave and they’ll come back. That’s a given too.