The Paradox of Living An International Life

It occurred to me the other day, that wherever I live, I will never be able to have a ‘regular’ relationship with someone. It will either be long distance, or it inevitably will be; temporary and isolate on a number of levels.

As an international student, studying at an international university I should live up to the joyful stereotype of being connected; having friends in countries that I visit, and most often, I’m lucky enough that I do. Yet, in spite of this, I scarcely meet them. Our friendships reoccur in these small moments, and eventual memories. The ‘international’ tendencies, that most probably brought us together will inevitably lead to us to geographically moving away from each other; we all know how difficult it is to keep these friendships from withering away.

We can all characterise relationships that have been traced by such phenomena. A best friend of two years, whom you met in another far-off city, that now lives back in the U.S. or the childhood friend, still at home.

The friendship with the other international friend of yours, resuscitated by Skype, works. Both enjoying the thrill that comes from being outside the comfort zone of home. You instantly relate to the trials and tribulations of cross continental living. But as seasons in the year, you pass in and out of each other lives. Consistent and marked. Although you grasp the moments with each other, you aspire to grasp them again and again. Such rendezvous decided solely by what country you both happen to lay in that morning.

At home, things don’t change though, the streets hold the same traffic, your local corner shop still possess that funny smell and your childhood friend is still there. The friend at home and yourself often avoid any contact over the internet as each one is totally enveloped in their own new life; there is no maintenance, it is self sustaining. But this friendship can easily turn sour when the friend at home starts to become envious of the ‘international’ one of the pair, the pretentious one, speaking x number of languages, in z number of countries.

I find it all preludes to an ‘internationally connected’ loneliness; that follows you round on the endless flights, the mystic public transport system of a new city, the highways of new continents and all under the same glaring daylight. That childhood friend struggles to relate, the one in the US is $597 away, and the friend alongside, is not going to Madrid next year.

If you are on the move, then so will your friendships. The friendships will always be there, and so will you, occasionally colliding into eruption, often stranded.

Author: Tudor Etchells



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