- the emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.
- “old ties of love and friendship”
- a relationship between friends
- a state of mutual trust and support between allied nations
Today I want to talk about friendship, because it’s a really, really important topic.
I was never really the type of person to have lots of friends or be in a specific group of friends that I could call on instantly. High school was a bit of a struggle (as it is for everyone) with trying to fit in and trying to create connections with people so that I wasn’t lonely.
As I’ve gotten older (I’m using older very loosely), I’ve realised that friendships truly mean a huge deal to me. Having people around me and having friends that I can have fun with and trust are a huge part of what makes me, me. For some people, and what I thought was the case for me, prefer to spend time alone and do things at their own pace. However, especially more recently, I’ve realised how important it is to have some form of connection.
I also use the word ‘connection’ very loosely, because even conversing with someone on a daily basis helps my mood so much. This doesn’t have to be a ‘friend’ so to speak, but just someone who I can catch up with and discover what they’re up to at that particular time is refreshing, and if that turns in to a friendship then that’s great.
Moving to a foreign country is extremely difficult, and a lot of people don’t understand this. People tell me that I’m so brave and what I’m doing is great but they don’t really understand if they’ve never moved to a foreign country. Especially because I didn’t do Erasmus, I was literally on my own moving to a place where I knew no-one. For some reason, these situations push me to make connections with people even more. When I’m in this type of situation, I strive so hard to meet as many people as I can and spend as much time with people as possible – but this doesn’t make it any easier.
Fortunately enough, I was lucky to have a group of people in Aix that I would see very regularly and I was comfortable enough to meet individually and just have a good time. When I first moved to Aix (and any of my friends from the last year will tell you this), I tried so hard to get everyone to meet. Everyone knew who I was because I’d constantly be in touch with people and trying to get different groups together so everyone could meet each other. This gave me a great sense of happiness to know that I was creating connections and groups of like-minded people.
However, it wasn’t easy. It’s easy to be nice to people but meeting fifty different people in the space of a month and trying to keep up with everyone is D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T. The first couple of months I definitely thought everyone would stick together as we were such a great group, but everyone eventually cornered off in to their own little groups, and that’s a great thing. The memories I hold of Aix include meeting up in the park or in coffee bars and catching up, having wine and bread and cheese nights with a group of close friends and there’s also a few crazy nights tossed in.
I met some people that I will never forget and I that I will strive to stay in contact with for the rest of my life. I’ve also met some people who are so similar to me it’s UNBELIEVABLE and who I can’t wait to see in the future (Rachel and Caro, you know…) Having these relationships throughout a year abroad completely change the experience. To know that people from the other side of the world understand you entirely is a very heart-warming thing and makes you realise how small your world actually is. There are so many people out there to connect with and to meet, and the year abroad gives you that opportunity on a plate. So take it! Grab that opportunity as fast as you can and don’t let go of it.
I can’t just talk about friendships on a year abroad though, I want to talk about keeping friendships at home.
One thing people don’t mention about a year abroad is how difficult it is to keep in contact with your friends from home. My internet was awful in my apartment so I could never skype, and when I did get the chance to skype one of my friends, where do you even start? So much has happened since the last time you saw anybody that you truly don’t know where to begin and you never really know the full story of what’s happening in their lives. It’s also very difficult to explain to someone from home about what’s going on with you. How can you explain anything when they don’t have the background of the culture and they haven’t met or know anything about your friends in your new world? It’s not easy to keep a friend through a computer screen.
It’s very, very difficult but it doesn’t matter because when you come home at the end, it’s like nothing has changed. I recently went home for three weeks and I had the BEST time ever with my friends, getting to finally catch up and reminisce about old times. When you come home at the end of the year, it feels like home and it’s a
great incredible feeling (we’ll see how I feel after a long, stressful year in honours).
I can’t thank my best friends at home enough for sticking with me whilst I’ve been a frenchie and I’m really looking forward to going back to Glasgow and creating some new friendships over the next year.
There’s so much more I could talk about on the topic of friendship out-with the year abroad; online friendships, the meaning of friendship, what makes a friend, keeping in contact with friends later in life. But, we’ll save that for another day (or month, or year…)
[If you’d like an insight in to friendships specifically in France, this article gives a really good insight. I read it today and really resonated with it.]
This is part of a new series of mine. I will be talking about a subject from A-Z twice a week.
L: Leaving Aix