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Keep in Contact with Friends When You Live Abroad

Last night, I texted some of my closest friends, who now live thousands of kilometers away from me. I decided to tell them how much I love them; how much I miss them; how grateful I am to be able to text them anytime. Despite the distance and the different time zones, we share our daily struggles, some funny stories and the problems that keep us awake at night. We make each other feel less lonely and more importantly, we make each other happy.

Living abroad can certainly be a lonely venture and it is often straining for many friendships.

There are many reasons for one to move abroad – from a new job opportunity to finding love. However, there is something that each reason has in common. When the honeymoon phase starts wearing off (when you feel like a tourist, discovering new things about the city everyday), you will inevitably feel something strange. You will try to fight it and you will wonder what is wrong, what could be missing. Those of us who have lived abroad for a while know this feeling very well – it is loneliness. While some fall victims to it a bit more than others, no one is able to escape its wrath.

The settling period in a new country can be incredibly challenging and vulnerable. If you are feeling down and you do not have upbeat news to tell those you love, you do not want to tell them anything at all. You wanted the people you love to be proud of you, to have their chests swell with pride when they talk about you to others, but instead, you fear you are somehow failing them. You start avoiding calls; you delay sending emails and you postpone answering all text messages. By doing so, you are only increasing the problem – you will end up feeling even more lonely.

That is why it is of paramount importance to keep in contact with your friends (and family) while you are living abroad. Tell them everything – the good and the bad. Do not be afraid to be honest. You took a courageous endeavor and all undertakings carry risks. But remember – the scary and challenging moments in your life are not meant to be lived alone. Friends should be there for you through thick and thin, so let them be there!

There is nothing to feel ashamed of – you are experiencing an exhausting amount of challenges, contradictory feelings and self-doubt. There is no need to blame yourself or compare your experience to perfect Instagram stories from other fellow expats. Everyone’s experience is different, but whatever it is like, it ought to be shared with the people you care about the most.

That being said, text, call, skype them. Keep up with their Instagram stories, send them postcards, voice messages or e-mails. Whatever means of communication works for you; the important thing is that you keep in touch.

Lastly, just give yourself time and do not forget to enjoy the perks of your new home despite the adversities!  

 

Madalena Ricardo is a Portuguese student at the University of Helsinki. Torn between two countries (and some more). Passionate about writing. Interested in saving the world.
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