Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Guest Post - An expat friend.

Today, I've got Christine, a fellow expat whose blog 'Expat Mum in Portugal' I've been reading for a while.  She has very kindly written today's guest post on a subject I can certainly relate to. 

I'll hand you over...

An Expat friend.

When you are an expat, friendships are a little different.  People are drawn together, especially at first for support and familiarity, often meeting through other expats or expat groups and events.  Less often through work or other social places like playcentres or bars etc. 

Expat friends can be quite transient, more so than friends in your home country, as they are more likely to move on, particularly if they are ‘serial expats’ or their job demands it.  Many expats I know spend a lot of time with their families, sometimes just because of the way they are, sometimes because they don’t have the social network that they had at home.

 One day you can be a strong friend but once that friend moves on, the friendship soon breaks as though it was location which held it together.  Although this isn’t always the case, some friendships last forever, but I think this is rare. 

I don’t have a huge set of friends and although I spend a reasonable amount of time with them and know them fairly well, I don’t doubt that if we or they left the friendship would be left behind.  I think it is just how it is, human nature is to be attracted to what is familiar to you, expats are drawn to each other for support and a sort of ‘replacement family’.  I think this kind of behaviour helps us to cope with being an ‘expat’ and to move into our new life abroad.  It is a little sad to think that way, but I’m sure a lot of expats can relate to what I’m saying. 

For example, I have friends back home in England who I have known a long time, and don’t see very often but know that no matter how long it has been since we talked or were together, it will be like it was yesterday when we are together again.  That is not something I feel with my ‘expat’ friends.  But maybe it is just me, what do you think?  What is your experience of ‘expat friends’?


  1. I can relate to it, though not as being expat. (I'm a half cypriot who recently moved to Limassol from Sweden.) However from my short life as international consultant, based in south of France I have similar experiences. First of all it was much more easy than in "real life" to get friends, but then afterwards when back in Sweden I've had really rare contacts with these folks. It's really interesting how the human mind works... but not quite surprising. Distant relations are always more difficult to nourish.

  2. I could write pages about this! Actually I kind of did, in my M.A. thesis :)

    It may depend to a large extent on the location you are, but here in Asia i would say that an awful lot of friendships survive moving on.

    Let's keep in touch and get back to this when it's not nearly bedtime.

    Thanks for making me think about this again, I love this topic.


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