I’m taking a break from 35W bridge collapse commentary and returning to the regularly-scheduled topic of this blog, expat life.
For some reason, no one ever talks about what it’s like to make new friends as an adult. Certainly my friends back home are mostly still friends with the same people they have known since college, or high school, or even further back in time. But when you make a dramatic move like moving countries (which you start to realize after a while is actually not terribly common, since all of your friends are back at home still being friends with the people they have known since junior high school) you are faced with the prospect of trying to make new friends. And let’s face it: trying to make new friends is only slightly different from dating. In fact, aside from the lack of expectation for a good night kiss (or more), there is really no difference between a first date and a first friendly outing. I realize this profound truth this week because I have actually had a few “friend dates” … you encounter someone in your new life, be it through work (most likely) or other means (less likely). You enjoy each other’s company in group situations, so you tentatively start to discuss meeting up just the two of you. You may or may not have this discussion in a formal way, but at times it definitely does have the same feeling as asking someone out. You plan your little “friend date” with a certain amount of trepidation and excitement. You think about what you are going to wear and you get nervous as the date approaches. You hope that once the “date” actually starts, you and the person you’re with will be able to remember why it seemed like such a good idea in the first place. You are conscious of everything you do and say, and that goes double when you are in this expat-foreign-culture situation. Frankly, it’s exhausting. No wonder people are happy to stay in one place and stick with established friendships! But for an expat abroad, it’s a clear case of nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I’m sure I will continue to have stories to tell of friend dates I’ve just been on, and hopefully there will be tales of more to come in the future.