The challenges, and attendant questions, of moving abroad to another country are many. Where do I live? How does the transportation system work? Can I really eat that? Could you please repeat that, slowly?
Undoubtedly, one of the greater sacrifices is distancing oneself from family and friends (if you liked them enough to live near them before, which I personally did). With modern wonders such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, I can stay “in touch” with all of the people I miss.
One of my closest friends, Emily, and I have an interesting bestfriendship (Yes, this may not be a real word). When we lived in the same city, we often saw each other and when we weren’t hanging out in person, we were in contact via text. We didn’t really talk on the phone — there seemed little need, because we saw each other enough to be properly caught up and our texts essentially served to set up the next time we were going to do so (and also to complain about/gush over things we discovered during the day). I remember calling her one day just to say hi, when we both still lived in NYC, and she said, “Oh my god, what’s wrong?! Are you okay?” After a beat of confusion during which I was clearly alive and uninjured, Emily said, “Well, we never call each other just to chat!”
I had to admit this was true. Emily and I chat in person, where we are both far more engaging than on the phone. I felt momentarily guilty for that, with “calling to chat” being the apparent social-pressure litmus test for how good of a friend you are. So for us to transition to an international bestfriendship where we would necessarily have to talk on the phone has taken some effort. We still don’t Skype very often, preferring to text each other as we always did with questionable outfit pictures (“Can I wear this with this? I feel like no, but I need your opinion!”), minor life updates, random observations, pep talks, and sometimes, just emoticons detailing how much we miss each other and how much pizza we’re going to eat while watching a Pixar film next time we are together.
I am learning that the relationships which can withstand the test of time, distance, and time difference are often those that don’t require constant or even occasional catch-up sessions or check-ins. The solid gold nugget of those friendships is already formed. There is no guilt for living a life outside of the friendship. If I haven’t communicated with Emily for a while, I can still send a stupid GIF without explanation or an email with a link to an event in New York she might like to attend. It’s an illusion of being a short subway journey away, instead of 3,000 miles.
The only downside is that we see each other much less often, of course. When we do get a day or two together, and then must finally say goodbye, we are just two grown-ass women crying in the elevator, thankful for our gold nugget of friendship.