Making the decision to move abroad is a big one. It’s a complete change of life as you know it. Being away from your origin, or home, is obviously an awesome experience, but you’re going to have to face the fact that life goes on without you. The friends that you had will continue with their careers, their relationships, their lives. They will make new friends, and there is a huge chance that they will make better friends than you were, no matter how hard that is to hear, nor how much you want to shank that new bitch with a stiletto, so how do we maintain a friendship when one of us is living abroad?
Do not despair! Just because this might happen, it doesn’t mean that it has to. I don’t really like people, on the most part, they highly annoy me, yet I still have two long-term best friends back in the UK, who I have managed to maintain a friendship with whilst at university, and then whilst living abroad. This in part is due to the following point, which is worth putting here as a disclaimer:
A true friendship is one where you might not see each other for long periods of time, but when you do, it’s as if no time has passed, and you are still as tight as you ever were.
This might be the case, however, as we get older and more busy, it’s worth making a little bit more effort to make sure that you keep close those who are worth your time and everlasting love. Below, I’ve listed the tips and tricks that I try to follow, to make sure that I always have friends to go home to.
This should really go without saying. I don’t mean that you have to send them a message every day to see how they are doing, that would most likely make them hate you. This means making time every few weeks to Skype, to sit down and send an email, or a Facebook message, to send them a little text once a week. I am inherently lazy, so can understand that this feels like a monumental task, but in this day and age we don’t really have an excuse not to keep in touch. Technology is our friend, we are lucky enough to be able to see somebody’s face over Skype, even when we are in a completely different time zone to them.
Again, the benefits of Facebook will make sure you never forget a birthday, but it’s probably worth setting a reminder on your phone, or if you’re old school like me, writing it in your diary. Then, when the big day comes, you can send them the personal message and make a status about them. That’s my tactic, it screams ‘look at how much I love my best friend!’. I’ve done that several times in the last year, yet when my birthday came around I had no personal statuses, not that I’m bitter. If you are super organised, you can set another reminder a week early, and then get on Amazon and have a birthday present sent to their house. I do this with my best friend from school, and it usually involves sending a child’s craft kit every year (sew your own sock monkey, sew your own dinosaur…): she digs that shit.
It might be a video of a cat being hilarious, it might be a Buzzfeed video about how much you love wine, it might be a drink, a dream, a bloody tapestry: whatever it is, let them know that it reminds you of their humour, their interests, or their personality. This lets them know that they’re still in your thoughts, and that the friendship is still on your mind all the time.
Facebook has this plug-in that shows you what you posted on this day in the past. It’s fairly funny, and usually pretty embarrassing. Use this to your advantage, and share photographs and statuses with them, asking them if they ‘remember the time when…’. Again, if you’re old school you might have some photographs with you, that I highly recommend having, so that you see their bright faces every morning whilst you do your hair, and you can feel them silently judging the decisions that you made the night before.
This might seem a little self-centered to some, as if they’re not asking, then surely they don’t want to know? Wrong! How would they have any idea what is going on in your life? They might have absolutely no idea how your life works anymore, so if something happens that annoys you, makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you homesick – whatever! Tell them. It gives them a chance to give you advice in the same way that they did when you were both living in the same country. It also invites them to do the same thing back to you, which minimises the chance of the replacement best friend bitch taking your place.
This should happen pretty naturally if you are maintaining contact with them, and if you still consider them a close friend, as you’ll want to see them, and they’ll probably know your complete itinerary for the time that you’re home as they’ll be feeling the same way. Plan a day together doing something fun, reminiscent of past times, where you can both be yourselves and catch up properly. My best friend and I tend to try and do at least two things: one where we can be calm and normal, and catch up properly, and then the other is this terrible tradition where we go out to the same town and nightclubs that we used to frequent when we were 18, which generally ends in us dying in her bed the following day with the worst hangovers of life and a string of regrets.
No two people in a friendship are normal. We all have our little traits that would grant us really strange looks from people, if we were to do them in public. We overexpose ourselves to our best friends (who else wants to know about your bowel movements, or would find your farts funny?), and that’s the way it has to stay. Just because we’re growing up, it doesn’t mean we have to grow up. Keep on being a total freak.
So, in conclusion, you don’t really have any excuse to lose touch with real friends. Being a lazy git does not count as a legitimate reason to forget your friend of 20 years’ birthday. Pull your finger out of your arse, and make an effort to maintain a friendship that truly means something to you.