These days we live in a much more globally interconnected world, and it is common for one to have friends scattered everywhere. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier to keep up with each other than it used to be. It is wonderful to know that, whether they live in London or Seoul, I can Skype with friends and even see their faces over webcam.
One blessing of being a traveler, or being internationally minded wherever you live, is to have friendships with people from different places and different cultures. Some of my best friends to this day hail from England, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Poland, Bulgaria, and Mexico. I’ve learned more from them than I can recount–Hae Chin teaching me about the intricacies of Korean culture, Kora taking me to her favorite drinking chocolate place in Warsaw, Sonja showing me the progress that Belfast has made in post-war years. They are all dear friends, confidantes, teachers, and guides, and they have made traveling truly fulfilling.
This week one of my best friends that I met at King’s College London, Ileana, is coming to visit from Guadalajara. We met our first day of graduate school, during orientation for the International Relations Masters students. Olof, another close friend, Ileana, and I had struck up a conversation during one the breaks and ended up having lunch together. After orientation we took a stroll and sat on a bench down by the Thames, talking about how excited we were to be in graduate school and how wonderful London was.
It’s always fun to reminisce about when you met a certain friend and what memories you hold of that individual. With Ileana, after that first meeting during orientation came many adventures–exploring and getting lost in London, going down to Brighton for my birthday, fulfilling mutual lifelong dreams of visiting the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, going to Greece with our other friend Sy and riding donkeys down the caldera of Santorini, and many more. I stayed with Ileana and her family for a few days in Guadalajara before reporting to language classes in Buenos Aires in 2008, which is the last time we saw each other in person and therefore means that we are far overdue for a reunion. So, starting this weekend, it will be my turn to show her around my neck of the woods.
It’s always fun to visit friends overseas, and in turn to have friends visit from overseas. Friendships in general that are able to be picked up right where you left them, as if no time passed between visits, are truly a blessing in life. Throw scenarios in which the friendships are international in nature into the mix, and you have even more of a unique dynamic.
Of course, if only plane tickets weren’t so expensive and time so limited, the unique dynamic of international friendships would be able to be enjoyed more often. I guess what ultimately counts, though, is appreciating the time that you do have together. And appreciating the fact that you have a couch to crash on when you do make the trip.