how are you today?
I have been thinking about friendship and making friends abroad more specifically a lot lately and wanted to share my thoughts with you. Friendships are so special as they’re so different from any other type of relationship in our lives, right?
I had posted a piece about making new friends roughly a year ago (see here) and I am very happy to report: I’ve been successful.
Is it easy to make new friends?
That’s a question I get asked a lot back home. Here’s what I’d usually answer.
Living abroad for two years is an immense privilege so I take it for what it is: A gift. Most people I’ve talked to that find themselves in a similar position would support this statement. It also doesn’t hurt living in an inspiring and international place like Cambridge where so many talented and bright people come together from all over the world. It’s a great starting point to making new friends I’d say.
And it was for me too. I am so grateful for having found new friends and having been able to build a new circle of trust within a few months only. A majority of people you’ll meet here aren’t originally from Boston nor are they from Massachusetts. Many are from China, India, South Korea, Japan, Europe, Mexico, South America, and the list goes on. And being away from home will force you to being open to making new connections.
Because be honest, you probably don’t go out actively seeking new friends in your hometown, don’t you? I can only speak of my personal and Swiss experience but I feel like I used to be especially lazy in that department. Looking back, I probably could have been more friendly with outsiders I met, I could have invited them over for a coffee or showed them around the city. But I didn’t. And if this American experience has taught me one thing then it’s this: To be more open-minded towards (and more friendly with) people who’ve moved to a new place.
Do you think you you’re open towards newcomers in your town?
I will forever be grateful for meeting so many awesome people. It sounds cliché but interacting with an eclectic bunch of people will really widen your horizon and you’ll learn so many things. Even though we couldn’t have more different backgrounds and home countries, there is one thing that unites us: The experience of leaving home and starting a new life in a new country. We’re on this crazy ride together and share our experience of living in the US as Non-Americans. And that is something incredibly valuable already. Knowing that others go through similar struggles and find similar things about American daily life funny (or weird or both) will undoubtedly bring you closer.
What I also found is that your relation with your native language will change over time. I strongly believe that the saying ‘Distance makes the love grow fonder’ not only applies to people or things but also to language. I seize every opportunity to speak German therefore also greatly appreciate friendly people that speak it (I also call it the native-speaker-friendship-phenomenon).
The emotional attachment to your native language
The emotional attachment to a language is something fascinating. I realize how precious my native language is especially when talking to Swiss friends here in Boston. There is such freedom and beauty in being able to expressing your thoughts and feelings in an unfiltered way and one that feels so obvious and natural to you that you don’t even have to think twice.
As there are not that many Swiss people readily available in Boston, I have to extend my circle of German speakers to German and Austrian friends. And you know what? They are great too.
To my Boston friends reading this, I really appreciate each and every one of you, you make this American journey what it is and I’ll be forever grateful.
To my Swiss friends reading this, you’re great too (obviously) but think if you can be extra-nice to someone that’s moved to Switzerland or your town recently (unless said person is an idiot, then you don’t have to be extra-nice, I trust your call on this).