Okay! So here we are again – the end of the school year and some of our best friends leave. That is the most dominant and hard part of the expat life. From the moment we start nourishing a new friendship, we know that sooner or later it will end. And we might never meet again.
I remember how absurd and unreal it was when I did this for the first time some years ago. That last hug at the last lunch together with that friend you have experienced so many new and unfamiliar things together with. You have helped each other through days when the idea of living in a completely different culture, not knowing how to communicate or living far from your family, doesn’t seem that good any longer. But you have also enjoyed amazing adventures while exploring the city, strange food and the international community. You share memories and emotions that you might never be able to share with anyone else. So you hug, say goodbye and walk away. You know that you will keep in touch for a while, but if you’ve lived this kind of life for some years, you also know that keeping up a friendship only on Facebook comments is hard.
Yesterday evening it was time for one of those hugs. To me it’s a little bit easier if my friend, who is leaving, is going to Sweden, since I come from Sweden and know that I will be there every now and then. The probability of us meeting again is much bigger, I keep telling myself. Saying goodbye to someone from another country, going to yet another distant part of the world, makes it worse.
No matter how sad it is when people are leaving my life, the benefit of meeting people from all over the world is bigger. Every day I enjoy seeing what my friends all over the globe are showing me on Facebook and a couple of times I’ve been able to visit old friends in the country where they live now. The lessons I’ve learned about myself, my values and my culture, by getting to know people that I probably would never had met otherwise, is amazing! It’s the best course in personal development you could ever do! But it’s a tough course. You have to invest a big part of yourself, your time and your emotions and it will take a while before you know if it was worth it. Maybe you have to realize that this person is not quite a match for you and start all over with someone else. If you’re lucky you will meet someone you really like and a friendship is growing. That part of your heart and how you enjoy being with that person will be gone when she or he leaves. I allow myself to grieve. But I also, as a mantra, keep telling myself: The sadness I feel when she’s leaving, is a proof of the love and friendship I’ve experienced with her. That makes sense doesn’t it? If I had no friends, I wouldn’t be sad at all at this time of the year. And that would be very sad!
So I know that most of my expat friends out there are experiencing this right now. I hope you are doing well in balancing the sadness and the joy!