The Allure of Friendship Beyond Your Borders

The Allure of Friendship Beyond Your Borders

What's the appeal of having friends from around the globe?

Your phone lights up at three in the morning. Still groggy from your deep REM, you reluctantly sit up to check — it is your friend from Sweden, the one you met at, of all places, a quaint bookstore, during your trip there some months ago. She asks if you have been doing well, and wonders if you will be visiting again. Of all the nights to be woken up by your phone, you thank your stars it is this very one. There is something about the quasi-mysterious nature of a friend abroad that keeps you intrigued; an indescribable yearning to live a life side by side.

Some have the fortune of meeting them abroad, while others wonder where to even start. A whole world awaits, yet for some, it all begins on a flat, HD computer screen, taking advantage of the vast net to bring themselves closer than ever to an online acquaintance, but never feeling more distant, as if there is a void in their hearts; as if they belonged in different worlds altogether, no matter how often they text — you always want to know more. It is a shared emotion between world lovers, when the reality of just how vast a planet we inhabit starts to sink in. But no matter how you meet them, the same, familiar curiosity piques; you want a window into their everyday lives.

Before long, you ask questions about their side of the world; from the exotic – cuisine, culture, and history – to the mundane – school, hobbies, work – both sets of questions seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet with every answer, no matter how routine, you get a better glimpse into a world that you may never be a part of, even though you breathe the same air and see the same blue skies. You make a mental note of the time difference in their countries, and you sometimes find yourself drifting off in your imagination, staring into space, wondering what they are doing this very moment, and occasionally, if they are thinking about you, too.

Occasionally, you get into petty arguments with them, simply for a lack of cultural understanding. As you expand your circle of international friends, you start to realise how diverse each community is, and how different their social interaction is from yours. Apart from feeling, for the very first time, so tiny, you also have to adjust according to the person you are conversing with, because with every misunderstanding, you see just how many different angles even the simplest thing can be looked at. Suddenly, it feels like your eyes have been opened to the reality that there is more to social interaction than the one you have always been so accustomed to back home.

Ultimately, as friendships go, there are so many different reasons for interacting with people from all walks of life beyond your borders, but above all, I like to think of them as beacons in our fog of travel, shining a light on spaces, places, and faces; unexplored, unfamiliar, uncertain. Many dream of one day exploring every nook and cranny of the face of the earth; a noble ambition, but one, generally, advised against undertaking alone, for the enormity of the task ahead becomes clear when you realise that with every step ventured into the world, millions more are made and removed, like shifting sands of the desert, bending with the will of the gods — leaving you with yet more searching on your hands.

But press on in the greatest singular voyage of our lives, for scattered across the lands are your shining beacons, burning bright as long as you want them to. When the fog becomes too cold to bear, warm yourself by their fire, and listen to the stories they have to share, and while some friends may forever be separated by a screen, it helps to know that it is not all that dark out there after all.

Also Read: Tourist or Traveller?

About Author

Benjamin Tan
Benjamin Tan

As a nomad, Benjamin believes his place in the world is not determined by the borders of one country, but by wherever the sweet nectar of exploration tickles his nose. He continually hones his writing in the hopes that his documentation of his journeys can do the beauty of what he witnesses some justice.


Related Posts