Written by Dr. Russ Gadzhiev
“A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely.” – Pam Brown
“A true friend accepts who you are, but also helps you become who you should be.” – Anonymous
When you are moving overseas you are starting a new life. A life, full of new opportunities and even adventures. Moving overseas is a significant and transforming life experience that will affect your life in a number of profound ways. But what should you do with your friends and loved ones who stayed in your home country and are not planning to move with you? Should you forget about them and leave them in the past? Not at all. In this short article, we are going to talk about how you can retain your old friendships and make them stay alive.
It is true, unfortunately, that after moving overseas some of the people you used to have friendships and connections with may drop out of your life. You may just drift apart. Why does it happen? Well, there may be various reasons for it. With time you may realize that the interests that you both used to have been no longer there. Your interactions may become shallower and you may not message or call them as often.
Usually, the old friendships to drop out of your life first are those which scientists call “circumstantial”. For example, you and your friend used to work for the same company. Or you and your friend used to go to the same school. Or you had the same circle of friends. In other words, there were some external factors that kept your friendship going. And now, since you have nothing in common, your friendship is fading away.
Another reason why old friendships do not work anymore is that your old friends cannot relate to your new experience. They simply have nothing to add or say. With the passage of time, they may completely lose interest in everything you say. And even if they want to be interested or support you – they just don’t know how. And that is why they simply choose to disappear.
Another thing that may be the case when it comes to failing friendships is that your old friends may feel jealous about your bravery to move overseas and start a new life. Perhaps, somewhere in the back of their minds, they wanted to do the same thing. But they had no financial means to do, or they could not leave their parents and relatives behind or due to some other reason.
So how can we make sure that our friendships do not fade away after our move overseas? Here is a short list of things that you can do.
Maintain Regular Contact with Video Calls
Although it may seem like something obvious, the fact is fact – the advent of technology with the growing number of video call apps has helped millions of people around the globe to stay in touch while being geographically separated. This was especially during the covid pandemic when people were separated for indefinite periods of time.
If you don’t have time to make video calls often, you can still connect by sending each other messages via Telegram or Whatsapp. Gone are the times when messages to a person living overseas cost a fortune. The ubiquity of the Internet made sending messages overseas simple. If you feel that video calling may feel a little invasive or awkward, check other ways of staying in touch with your friends overseas listed below.
Watch A Movie Together
Yes, it is possible, even if you are living far apart. Again, thanks to the advent of the Internet, there appeared numerous apps that help people stay in touch and enjoy each other’s company. Apps such as Teleparty for Netflix or Amazon Prime Watch Party allow you to enjoy watching a movie together. All you will need is a subscription to one of these services. While watching movies together you can even chat – this will help you get a feeling as if you and your friends are sitting in the same room and talking about the movie.
Sending birthday wishes to your friends living far away is not just an act of courtesy. It demonstrates to your friends that you have not forgotten about them and that your value your friendship. If you are struggling with remembering important dates, download a simple calendar app. Also if you feel like it, you can even send them a postcard – that will demonstrate even more your commitment to keeping your friendship alive. As a matter of fact, you don’t need a special occasion to send your friends who live overseas little gifts. Sometimes receiving an unexpected gift may actually make a more lasting impression. That will surely demonstrate to your friends that they are in your thoughts.
Try A New Hobby Together
Yes, this is possible thanks to technological advances. This will help your connection grow. Now, you must be wondering – how can you do that? Well, for example, you can learn a foreign language together. So, find a tutor and start having language classes together. Apps such as zoom and google maps allow multiple people to join one online meeting. So, this will be fun!
Plan A Visit to Your Home Country
Keeping in touch online is excellent and should help you keep your friendship growing. However, visiting your friends at least once in a while can make a huge difference too. Or if you do not want to visit your home country for some reason, invite your friends to visit you. They will even decide to move as well.
Be Mindful of Written Messages
Sometimes people read too much into written messages and jump to conclusions. Sometimes these conclusions are wrong and they can be a real threat to your friendships. So instead of reading into text messages that you receive from your friends, talk to your friend via skype and see if what you thought was true is actually true. Live communication where you can see a person’s emotions is always the best – as the chance of getting someone wrong is smaller.
Make A Commitment to Make Your Friendship Work with Dialogue
It is very important that you both express your desire to make your friendship work. Also, acknowledge the fact that your friendship is going to be different from what it used to be. Tell your partners and make it as clear as possible – you are not abandoning them and you will never abandon them. Such words will reassure your friends and make them want to reciprocate. After all, being abandoned is not a nice feeling and you need to do everything to make sure that your friends are not feeling this way. Those friends with whom you have established a strong and solid connection are the ones you especially need to be gentle with.
Fortunately, these days, thanks to the rise in technology, it is getting easier to maintain friendships despite the distances separating people. There are numerous apps and programs that can help people see each other any time they want and even engage in the same activities like watching films or studying together. If you have moved overseas, your old friendships do not have to fade away. The more you work on them, the stronger they will become.
However, the harsh truth of our life is that sometimes we do lose people who used to be our friends. And even if it comes to that – accept it and learn how to let go. Remember you cannot force your friendships on other people. If they decided to walk away from your life, then there is nothing you can do. Instead, work hard to keep other old friendships alive, and, most importantly, do not forget to make new friendships in your new country!
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.