The more you travel, the more people you meet – that’s not breaking news. Throughout my travels, I’ve learnt how true this actually is. For me, each journey is an excuse to make new friends. As a result I sometimes feel like I have more friends from abroad than from my home country, India – and sometimes that’s weird. There are those awkward situations when I talk to someone and say: ‘Oh, recently my Ecuadorian friend told me that…’, or ‘You know, that guy from Canada I meet two years ago just texted me yesterday that…’. Then this person usually gives me this look saying ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’.
And I’m not really surprised about such their reaction. Some people might wonder if it makes sense to keep in touch with somebody who you have only met once a long time ago, who sometimes lives a few time zones away and who you don’t know well at all, because you only had a chance to spend a couple of days together, while couchsurfing or in a hostel kitchen. So what’s the big deal about building international friendships?
Motivation to travel
Isn’t having friends abroad a good reason to travel? If you care about your international friendships, you probably know what I mean. There are such days when the only thing you need is to run away from your daily routine and visit those people you’ve met some time ago on the road. You had such a great time together, you still keep in touch, so why not to do this? They would probably welcome you with arms wide open!
This is a no-brainer. When you meet foreigners, you always have to bump with cultural differences; even if your friend comes from a nearby country. There is always something you can learn from each other – no matter if you live in the same continent or if your countries are neighbours. From languages to national traditions – the lesson never stops!
Probably the most delicious reason to stay in touch! Have you ever met anyone who does not like tasty food? And do you know what is better than exchanging tastes with your abroad friends and trying new, sometimes quite exotic, dishes? Almost nothing!
It won’t come as a surprise if I say that everybody has their own beliefs and ideas. Though not everyone likes to hear that other people have very different opinions on something – there are plenty of us, those who love to exchange their thoughts. Having friends from abroad is an excellent chance to do this – they might not only have contrary positions because of their lifestyle or upbringing. Their choices and beliefs may be caused by cultural traditions in their country or by a place they grew up in. And learning about those variations is exciting.
During my undergraduate studies I constantly heard this tiny voice in the back of my head, whispering: ‘Take a break before continuing to graduate school; you’ve always dreamt about it! You have so much time before becoming a mature, reasonable woman’.
Then, on holidays, with two friends of mine, we decided to try Workaway. We ended up in Bhutan, volunteering in a big traditional wood house, where we met people from all over the world – there were about 15 of us! During the day we were working but in the evenings we were sitting together at the big table, talking about our pasts and futures, expectations and experiences. On one of these evenings I listened to that whisper in my head by making a decision about taking this break I have been thinking about for so long.
The stories I heard at this table in Bhutan were simply too much inspiration – experiences my friends from abroad shared with me, inspired me to take a risk, to buy a one way ticket and to live the life abroad I always wanted.
Feeling that you’re not alone
Everyone needs that in their life. It’s an uplifting feeling – that when you feel alone, there always will be someone to cheer you up. The best thing ever is to have such people nearby; to have an opportunity to meet each other and get rid of those bad emotions. But after some time I’ve realized how important long-distance friends’ support can be. It’s awesome to know that somebody keeps fingers crossed for your success, even if they are a few thousand kilometres away.
Learning that we’re the same everywhere
As one of my favourite bands sings: ‘And as we’re crossing border after border, we realize that difference is none’. Despite all the things that distinguish us, we all have the same needs and dreams; we want to know what freedom tastes like, we want to live without any worries, among our friends and family; we want to love and to be loved. Eventually we live under one sky and it doesn’t matter if it’s in Europe, Asia or Australia. We should take as many opportunities as we can to learn from each other – that’s how this world works. But in the end, we have to remember to respect and appreciate one another’s views, no matter how much we don’t agree with them. Instead of getting angry with each other, try to learn something. It’s always a better solution to keep your international friendship in harmony.