Five months into my journey abroad and I am revelling in the fast-paced rhythm of London living! With the sun out in spirit, the charm of the city shines through – from morning walks along Regents Canal, to daily commutes on a red double decker through Holborn and shopping on Oxford St – the feelings of ‘home away from home’ are starting to reside.
This exciting (and somewhat scary) realisation has encouraged me to think about the people in my life, so much so, that I decided to make this month’s blog a homage to the friends – new and old – who have supported, inspired, and lifted me along the way!
While there are endless friendship poems, quotes and songs to reference, “With a Little Help from my Friends” by The Beatles felt like the most iconic and relatable British tune for the moment!
From friends to family!
Moving abroad is a significant milestone that reshapes our perspectives, challenges our comfort zones, and encourages us to embark on a journey of self discovery. Amidst the thrill and excitement of new adventures lies an unexpected treasure – the blossoming of friendships!
My overseas tribe has grown very quickly – past and present colleagues, peers from University, teachers, hotel managers, consultants, and even a friend I made at the Visa centre prior to leaving Sydney! Whether our relationship has evolved from colleagues or we simply have ‘hit it off’ instantaneously, these connections have transcended the ‘regular rules’ of friendship, ultimately becoming my loyal and trusted London family!
“No matter where you are, you can find home where tea is served.” – Anonymous
What makes these connections so special?
I believe the learnings and experiences we share daily are the common thread that binds us together; allowing us to forge unbreakable bonds that instantly stand the test of time, distance and circumstance.
How to find new companions?
Many people have asked me where I have found all of these amazing friends! In reflecting on this question a few things sprung to mind:
Sharing culture (particularly through a uniting love of food, I most recently introduced my international colleagues to fairy bread)
Creating rivalry through sports (Women’s FIFA World Cup was the latest and greatest example!)
Joining sports teams/community groups founded on hobbies or interests
Being approachable, engaging and fun!
With this said, I’ve decided to spill the tea this month on my top five tips for making lifelong friendships abroad:
From strangers to confidants – Being on the other side of the world, I realised quickly there are situations one wouldn’t want to burden friends or family so far away with. Find a close confidant (or several) in your new destination to be a non-judgemental listening ear, offering encouragement, wisdom, advice and the occasional pep talk to help you overcome the hurdles you once thought were insurmountable!
Share personal stories – I love the following Brene Brown quote, “we have to trust to be vulnerable and we have to be vulnerable in order to build trust.” Opening up about your own experiences, interests, aspirations (and next travel destinations) helps to create an authentic and genuine connection!
Create a support system away from home – You might find yourself looking out at the amazing city you now call home thinking to yourself, “I would love to have my friend/s or family member/s with me to share in this memory.” When homesickness and/or self doubt creep in, your ‘friends-turned-family’ are there to offer a shoulder to lean on!
Be a connector – By introducing friends to each other, new relationships are created and circles formed. This can help everyone feel more connected and broaden your social network too. I recently held a brunch with a group of friends who were planning the next catch-up by the end of the evening!
Stay in touch – All relationships in life require effort to maintain. Reach out, schedule regular catch-ups, and show that you value the friendships you have. As the saying goes: to have good friends, you must also be one!
Forming friendships is an important rite of passage as one settles in to life in a new destination. I am so grateful to the friends who are on this journey with me in London (each day, passing through on a visit or virtually, back home in spirit!) – creating a marvellous enmeshing of memories, adventures and long-lasting connection!