Friends in Faraway Places: The Best & Worst Parts of Global Friendships
Releasing what is familiar in order to expand yourself and your world is terrifying, let’s not sugar coat it.
Leaving the place and people you know best — and that know the best & worst of you — is what discourages many from making that change, whether it be a new job, new city, new relationship, etc.
There’s never a promise of what’s waiting for you on the other side of a transition period. If we knew what was coming, life would be a lot less scary.
It would also be a lot less fun.
Sure, you might have an idea.
Gelato. A new job. Tuscan hills. Adventure.
But there’s no way to pinpoint the people that are waiting to meet you. Mentors. Coworkers. Lovers. Friends.
The Trope of Time
We get so sucked into this trope that time defines a friendship. Namely: time known.
But what about time spent together? Time spent adding value to each other’s lives? Time spent sharing your feelings, fears, and failures? Time spent encouraging one another to be the best version of yourselves? Time spent discussing dreams and visions for the future?
Sometimes you get lucky and the ones you’ve known the longest are the ones you spend the most quality time with. I look at my boyfriend as an example. His best friends are the guys he played soccer with on the school lot. These guys watched each other grow up and have been there for every milestone — every wedding, birthday party, and funeral. That is, undeniably, a beautiful thing.
I’m in a bit of a different situation.
My closets friendships are with people I spent some of my prime years discovering beautiful parts of the world — and my place in it — with. People I spent sweaty nights in the Sahara desert next to. People I held hands with as we jumped off cliffs in Amalfi. People I climbed to the top of the Swiss Alps with. People I’ve opened up my mind, heart, and life to with full trust that they will do nothing but add value to my existence.
Most of these people weren’t there when my dad was sick with cancer and they definitely weren’t there when he passed away. They weren’t there for my game-winning assist at the IND/Mercy game. They weren’t there for my college graduation party (which was an absolute banger, of course). But they are here now.
They are here to see new, beautiful parts of me break through the surface. They are here as I figure out where I want my life to go, and they are here to encourage me to continue in that direction.
The Best & Worst of It
When such strong connections are formed, it’s hard to imagine a life without one another within arm’s length. It’s an inevitable part of the traveler lifestyle, however, because the goal is to keep going.
Currently, I have friends in countless different cities spanning over 10 different countries and 3 continents. Super dope! Except for when it’s not.
Some are a train away, most a plane, and don’t even get me started on the timezone difference.
I’ve curated a list of the best and worst parts of having friends all over, so I’m sharing it for those who know the pain as well as the joy. If you’re lucky enough to relate to this article, you know full well that the good greatly outweighs the bad.
Nothing quite compares to a visit with a friend. I am so fortunate to have so many friends in such beautiful places that can give me an inside look on how the locals (or not-so-locals) live.
Abby hosted us at her East Village apartment for NYC’s Governor’s Ball music festival. Nadine came to dinner with my boyfriend’s family in LA. Dylan took me to his friend-slash-dealer’s house in Florida for a smoke sesh. Sami happily fed my shopping addiction by taking me to all her favorite Boston boutiques. And I’m currently planning a trip to London to share a pint with Haly and Christian. All of these experiences wouldn’t be possible had I not had a friend in that city. Even if they were possible, they definitely wouldn’t have been as great as they were.
There’s something so special about someone showing you their home. It’s making the connection you share stronger because their life, which can feel so distant, becomes that much more tangible.
Opening your home to someone you met faraway from it brings a piece of all those unique moments and memories you shared, into your current home and life. It also lets them get a better look at who you are. Your roots are exposed, to say the least.
I love being from Baltimore. I love letting my faraway friends see the ins and outs of what made me, me. This place led me to them, and I will forever be grateful for that, so it only makes sense to show them the best of it. My faraway friends have stayed with me in the comfort of my mom’s house, the transition of my grandmother’s basement, and now my beautiful, bright, and sunny Locust Point apartment. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a friend become comfortable in your most comfortable environment.
I also love introducing friends to friends. Platonic match making, you could say! If I know you and your personality, and know you will mesh with another friend, I would love to introduce you. I love growing my world and network and I believe those I keep around me share that similar value.
Drunken Dinners & Coffee Catch-Ups
Whether you’re at the most Instagrammable restaurant in New York, the strangest McDonalds in Florence, or your very own kitchen table, there’s no better feeling than sharing a meal with friends. It’s like whenever the wine starts flowing, so does the love. Not that it needs any assistance! The culinary experience is just that: an experience. Sharing this experience with friends connects you in such a beautiful way. Full tummies = full hearts.
Hospitality (apparently) runs in my veins and I love hosting. Having a Chef/Owner boyfriend helps a lot, too. Inviting friends over for a dinner party is one of the most fulfilling activities I could think of. Good vibes, Billy’s cooking, and a few ( 🙂 ) bottles of wine have a really special way of bringing people together.
Luckily there’s never a wrong time for a good bite. There’s a reason (re)connecting with friends over coffee is one of life’s simplest known treasures. Whether it’s a morning latte or an afternoon happy hour, having a friend take a break from their day to see you and share a sip and some small talk is sweet and should be enjoyed to the fullest.
True Vulnerability & Acceptance
Having met under some not-so-ideal conditions means you’ve most likely seen one another in some not-so-ideal situations. For example, maybe your Italian boyfriend just ghosted you (again) and the only people that can truly understand are the girls from your TEFL class you’ve known for less than a month. Maybe you spend a week sleeping on the bathroom floor with a guy you’ve known for less than a year after coming home from Morocco with food poisoning. These situations can form deeper bonds than even some of the strongest connections you share with those from home. Being vulnerable is a beautiful thing in general. Being vulnerable thousands of miles from home with absolute strangers? Unreal.
There is a downside to such strong connections…
Not Easily Accessible
Technology has absolutely changed the way we’re able to stay connected with one another; I couldn’t be more grateful to be a traveler in this day and age. However, it will never compare to the real thing. (Sorry Metaverse!)
Plus, when everyone’s in a different timezone, technology doesn’t make much of an impact. Yeah, you’ll get my text or call eventually, but you won’t be awake for another 6 hours so by then the situation will be over (right mom?)
Having your friends be planes, trains, and automobiles away sucks when all you need is someone to share a laugh or cry with.
Can’t Hang Out Whenever
How many of your best moments were spontaneous days with your friends? In college, we would all skip class and head to the beach for the day, simply because someone said “let’s do it” at brunch. Now, we have to make a Google calendar and group chat just to see when everyone’s free for a Facetime. Growing up is hard, there’s a reason so many people try to avoid it! Growing in different locations from your friends adds another layer to the already annoying obligation.
Can’t Be There When You Need Them/They Need You
Life seems to happen at the drop of a hat and some changes can’t be planned out in advance. Illnesses, mental health breaks, fires, and deaths are just a few of the parts of life that can’t be calendared in. Unfortunately, these are also the times when you need a friend the most. Not being able to be there physically for a friend in need can be heartbreaking for everyone involved. It is so important in these moments to do your best to let your faraway friends know you're here for them, even if it's not physically.
Let’s Be Honest
The main downside to having faraway friends is just that: they’re faraway.
While I wouldn’t trade these friendships for anything in the world, I would give almost anything to have them within an arm’s reach at all times (but maybe that’s just my attachment issues speaking 😄).
Then I realized: what makes these friendships so valuable is that you have to put in the effort. You have to make time for Facetimes, visits, and catch up sessions. You have to be present in each moment you’re lucky enough to share. You have to learn how to support from afar (which is truly a life skill we should all practice). You have to adjust to having pieces of your heart spread out all over the globe.
All of these adaptations only make you stronger. They only make you a better friend to those near and far. They make you appreciate those genuine friendships that are available and accessible to you. They make you look at life through a larger lens.
If you can relate to anything in this article, that means you’re doing something right. It means your worldview is evolving, expanding, and increasing. It means you’ve made genuine connections along the way and that you won’t settle for anything less moving forward.
Hold your friendships close whenever you can.
Nurture them. Tend to them. Strengthen them.
Near or far, friendship is an important part of this crazy life.