For many expats living abroad provides a wonderful opportunity to make new friends from whole over the world. Living in Korea these past 3 years I myself had made many wonderful friends from countries like the UK, Russia, Korea, Japan,Canada, Philippines, Mexico, Taiwan, Belgium, Singapore, Lebanon, Thailand, China, Hong Kong(not a country, but different from mainland China), and off course a few from the USA. Many of the friends I had made were through my grad school classes at Korea University and korean language classes at other institutions.
Like in high school or college at the beginning of our long stretch we often make many friends at once. However, by the end of our experiences we have only a handful of friends still left. Friendships abroad are the same. During my first year in Korea I had made at least 50 friends whom I talked with, hung out with, studied with, took classes with, went to parties with, had dinner with, went shopping with, and traveled with. Sharing the experience of living abroad I became friends with similar individuals like myself.
Being an open person that I am I like to think that friendships once made last forever. However, from my own experiences growing-up very few childhood friends of mine remain. As a young adult I have learned that friends do come and go, but sometimes really good friends do stick. So I considered all 50 of the friends I had made in Korea that year as a long-standing friend.
After finishing graduate school I stayed in Korea for my language studies and also due to work. By this time however, I had lost touch or even lost contact with most of my Korea friends. I lost touch with a large amount of friends because while living abroad people sometimes do not expect you to stay and so they only remain in touch with you up until a certain period. Many of my grad school friends and a few Korean friends had done just that. They did not expect me to stay in Korea after graduation, or they did not intend to keep in touch if and when I decided to return home. But, there were some friends of mine who kept in contact with me during my vacations back home and upon my returns to Korea. These few friends who did contact me became my closest friends.
Moving on to the next stage of our lives my closet friends in Korea graduated from school, found jobs in Korea, or returned back to their home countries. Whichever event occurred we still remained in touch. We remained in touch because we all supported each others future dreams. Like myself many of my friends from Korea traveled to Asia with an interest in living, working, or studying abroad. Having shared that same experience no matter where we are in the next stage of life our lives are relatable.
Our lives are relatable because we have experienced the same sorts of things together during our time abroad. We experienced loneliness, homesickness, illnesses, intense food cravings, missing hearing our language spoken, and needing someone to lean on and care about us. All of us experienced these things on some level and connected with each other. Together we dealt with our shared difficulties, and together we made positive experiences.
The memory of all of the experiences we shared will never fade. By keeping in touch, my friends and I keep the memories of our friendship and our time abroad close to our hearts. Many of my closet friends whom I met in Korea or elsewhere I stay in touch with because I care about them. They remain my closest friends, and are viewed as my second family. Without them I could not have overcome all of the hardships and difficulties faced while living abroad. I also could not have made as many positive experiences if I had never met them.
As the years go by staying in touch with my friends from abroad has not been hard. Quoting what I had stated earlier “…friendships once made last forever.” I continue to believe that this is true because friendships made through shared experiences leave strong impressions on our lives.