Friendship. It is impossible for me to describe just how valuable it truly is. To have a network of true friends around you, particularly when living abroad, is so, so important.
I have to say, that I am the type of person who really loves (and needs) an active social life, and enjoy continuously surrounding myself with people I respect and can relate to. Of course, I love and value time alone with my husband and kids, and on the odd occasion, I even enjoy a little time to myself. However, as often as possible, I enjoy hanging out with my friends. It is a form of relaxation; de-stressing after a busy work work. Laughing until you cry, talking, sharing each others stories and feelings, comforting, understanding, reassuring, or cheering each other when needed. Being able to openly share your feelings with a true friend and in turn, simply lending a listening ear when needed is so invaluable. We crave honesty and acceptance. Enjoying someones company and authentic communication is healthy and healing.
Moving abroad, pulling up deep roots and saying goodbye to our own little corners of the world, to our families and everything familiar, can be as disorienting as it is exciting. When I left Australia, I also left behind a large group of the most wonderful friends you could ever imagine. Friends who I had made through school. Friends that can make you laugh until you cry. Moving to the Netherlands and having to rebuild a group of friends from scratch was tough, but I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful people over the past six years; a good combination of both Dutch locals and fellow internationals who have also chosen Holland to be their home. I have met some truly kind and genuine souls, who are exactly the kind of people I want to spend my time with.
When living in a foreign country, friends become a kind of family. I felt it when I worked on cruise ships away from home for months at a time and I feel it again now. It is natural to grieve the loss of the family that we leave behind when we move, even if married with families of our own. It can feel as though you have lost an immediate support, acceptance and presence of your parents and siblings in your daily life. As time passes and we settle into life in our new country, and friends help to fill that gap. I am not saying we miss our families any less or that they become less important, only that we adjust and adapt to our new lives. Supportive, genuine friendships provide us with so much.
As I grow oder, I am also realising that it is less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones. I am becoming pickier which whom I choose to spend my time with. Friendship, real friendship, can be hard to find. So once you do find it, be sure to value and appreciate it.
How fortunate I am to have met such wonderful people on both sides of the world and to be able to call them friends. Whenever I return to visit Australia, and meet up with my friends there, it’s as though we have not been apart at all. We do not see each other often and the distance makes it difficult to be able to be an active part in each other’s daily lives. However, I still value these friendships back home just as much as the newer friends who play an active role in my life right now here in the Netherlands.
My conclusion: No matter where in the world we are, we need friendship like sunny afternoons full of laughter and chocolate. They are such an important part of our lives and I for one, do not know what I would do without them.