When people live alone in a foreign country, they often seek others of their own ethnicity. Although being amongst your people sounds appealing, to me, it always seemed dull.
Undoubtedly, it’s always good to have someone of your background close to you because usually, you can comprehend each other better. You can understand the meaning behind their words, gestures, and expressions. And sometimes you need that simply because, especially if your first language it’s different you can be more yourself. Many studies showed that when you speak in different languages, your personality also changes.
I often notice that with myself as well. When I speak in my mother language and especially in my dialect, I am more confident, louder, abrasive, and dare say more sarcastic. These adjectives sound pretty bad and harsh, but it’s merely because of the difference of culture within the languages and nations. Therefore, I certainly do wish to be among people of my own background, but I do not seek them.
The reason that I often avoid finding others from my own country is that I already have my circle of friends back home that have been in my life since high school. I know that whenever I go back, they will be there waiting for me with their abrasive and sarcastic comments.
Choosing to live abroad also means experiencing the different cultures and languages. While I was a student in the UK, I had the chance to meet people from all the corners of our world. As an international student, I decided to be part of the international club at the university’s union. We had weekly gatherings at one of the common areas of the campus, and we would simply have several talks over a cup of tea and cookies.
I loved the talks that would often turn into debates with my fellow students. We would discuss cultures, languages, ethics, traditions, and even current issues such as the economy, politics, and other social problems. Hearing opinions from different perspectives, it was often eye-opening. Sometimes I feel that I might have learned more through these conversations instead of my lectures. Indeed an incredible life lesson.
Apart from learning new life lessons, the most important thing that I gain from the international club was new friends. In general, I make friends quickly as I love socializing, but I am that type that has only two to three close friends that I treasure. Even back home, although as a teenager, I had many people around me, there are only three amazing women that I absolutely love. In fact, this year, we close ten years of friendship, and I miss them dearly. But I know that no matter where we are on this planet, we always support each other.
In addition to my three friends from home, I had the chance to gain another three amazing women as my close friends. Three women from three different countries and three different continents. Together we are from four of the six continents, and basically, we almost cover the entire world. Obviously, that’s not true because by only having four countries, you can barely touch the diversity of our world. However, still, sometimes, I am amazed by our beautiful differences. But what I am more surprised at is when sometimes we even find similarities in some traditions, behaviours, and lifestyles.
But then again, humans will always be humans. Therefore, there is no doubt that similarities would occur. Friends are people with whom you share similar likes and dislikes and a mindset. Otherwise, being friends would be almost impossible. When it comes to my friends from home, we met thanks to our shared hobby that we still practice whenever we gather together. Similarly, I met my new friends thanks to shared interests.
I met these three beautiful women on different occasions, and with each one of them, I share a different relationship. With my friend from Asia, I share a sisterhood. Although, because of our extremely different lifestyles, we do not often contact, whenever we do, it’s as if we never stopped talking. Moreover, I learned so many things from her and is the person that I shared the most unique and beautiful experiences as a new young adult. Therefore, my memories with her are simply unforgettable.
My friend from South America is that friend that I’ll laugh with until I am in tears. It’s that kind of relationship of friends that they merely look at each other’s eyes with a knowing look because obviously, they’re thinking the same thing. We have so many things in common that we often text each other with new findings and jokes. Also, I find it that we have much more similar mindsets and behaviours. Thus, it is often easier to communicate. She is a friend that anyone would love to have as a best friend.
The third amazing woman that came into my life more recently is from Africa and is the kindest person that I have ever met. Although there are many things, I could say what I love the most, it’s our conversations. We regularly get into intense discussions on all kinds of topics that sometimes turn into full debates. Probably because we are both very passionate people, and we never stop talking, especially when it’s a topic that we love. But through our conversations, I realized that we are not so different, after all. We both lived abroad for several years, had struggles, and surprisingly enough, we are both introverts. Thus, we had similar experiences, feelings, and understandings of the world.
Through my friends, I also got to have a better understanding of their culture and, consequently, on their attitude, mindsets, and world understanding. I am not going to deny that frequently because of different perspectives, there are misunderstandings. A specific misconception that I remember is the attitude and use of language. Like many from my country, I am a straightforward person, and especially to my close people, I will voice my opinion. Regrettably, for some, that can be seen as a bad attribute.
Once while we were at a gathering of friends, there was a guy that obviously my friend from Asia did not like. From her attitude, it was pronounced, and it seemed a bit inappropriate, so afterwards I told her so. Unfortunately, though, she felt wronged. I honestly couldn’t comprehend what my mistake was. Later, when we discussed, she confessed that my comment on her attitude felt harsh. In my eyes, my behaviour felt normal, but thinking about it indeed for others could feel very abrasive.
I explained to her that typically if there is anything that felt off, I would say so. Not because I want to ridicule them but because we could right the wrong, whether that was mine or theirs. Afterwards, I merely tried to be more soft-spoken.
Similarly, while I was with my friend from Africa, there was another guy with us and let myself immerse into our conversation, and my sarcasm started coming out. The guy and I were a little bit harsh towards someone else with our comments, but to us, it was very normal and funny, but to my friend, it seemed like we were literally beasts. Until today I laugh at her expression towards me. Apparently, now I am described as a monster.
Currently, the only one who lives in the same area as I am is my friend from Africa. Hence, we often meet up, go for trips, and simply live an ordinary life together. As for the rest, although we might not live in the same country or continent, that doesn’t stop us from being friends because friendship does not have borders, race, or ethnicity.