One of the hardest things about travelling or moving to a new country that no one tells you about is the goodbyes. I’m not talking about the goodbyes when you first leave home (although they are bloody horrific), but I’m talking about the goodbyes you have to make when you’re somewhere new.
No one tells you when you travel or settle somewhere that the people around you will move in and out of your life like the flow of a river. People are on short term visas, people feel at home in different places, homesickness can get too strong to ignore. Making friends whilst travelling is not the same as making friends back home because often your hello is already tinged with goodbye.
Since settling in Sydney in April, three people I have become friends with have left. In the future, other people I have made friends are set to leave the country or move to new places within Australia too. With our Australian visa currently only for two years, I myself may be one of those people who leaves everyone she has grown to be friends with.
When I first came here and was fighting off the loneliness of missing my friends back home, I joined a lot of meet up groups and was shocked to see that there were some groups that would not let you join if you didn’t have a permanent visa. In my ‘please don’t make me be alone’ state, I remember being a little stung, thinking ‘why don’t these people want to be my friend?’
But I get it now. Goodbyes are hard. When you’re so far away from home, your friends become your family. To keep losing them is tough.
Making new friends when you are new to a country requires a lot of effort. You have to force yourself to join groups, to push yourself into new situations and be sociable even when you really, really don’t have the energy to. You become a master at small talk. Sometimes you go to meet ups and walk away having not made a single meaningful connection; sometimes you go to meet ups and you meet someone who you know will be in your life forever. Both of these things are experiences are great in their own way… and both of these things I was not prepared for.
Travel and migrating has brought so many wonderful things to my life and I will always, always be proud of myself for following my dream and grateful to Australia for the wonderful experiences it has given us, but more than anything I will be proud of myself (and Jack!) for the things we have learnt. As a person, I am much more self sufficient now. I learn to appreciate the moments I have with people rather than trying to plan more and more. I realise that nothing lasts forever and that the main thing is to enjoy it while it does.
People come and go in life, that’s just the way it is. When you travel or migrate, people leave more frequently than you think. Goodbyes are hard, but they’re often hard because the time you have spent with that person has been so special. For me, that’s what I focus on. I was lucky to know that person for that amount of time. Out of everyone in the world, that person chose to be friends with me. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?