“I don’t make friends with Australians,” a work colleague said to me in my first week in a new role after moving to the UK. A little taken back, I immediately went on the defensive by asking her why not.
“Because you come gallivanting over to our side of the world, make us all fall in love with your outgoing personalities and sarcastic sense of humour, and then run back home after two years. It’s not fair on a person.”
She has a point. It’s really not that fair.
I have been to an extraordinary number of leaving dos and deportation parties. I didn’t even realise that I knew so many people in London. However, at almost every leaving do I found myself being introduced to a new bunch of fellow Aussie and Kiwi working travellers that I was immediately fond of.
Always, one of the first questions asked by, or of, your new acquaintance is the obligatory, “How long are you here for?” or “What visa are you on?”
This is a perfectly acceptable question to ask, since you don’t want to be making a new friend to find out they will be leaving you within a few months. But then again, every time you hear the “I have sponsorship/Ancestry Visa/European Passport” response, you enviously congratulate them and secretly just want to punch them in the face.
There are great benefits, however, to befriending fellow travellers – such as finding out about all of their adventures, learning from their experiences, and getting recommendations on where to go next. With every new travelling friend you add more to your list of places to see and things to do. My ultimate bucket list is #neverending.
Usually it is the aim of every Aussie or Kiwi on a working holiday visa to outdo their fellow traveller by naming the most obscure place they have been, or the worst travel experience they have had. Since my hubby and I were the victims of stolen passports and a broken foot on the same night on our honeymoon, we are usually the top contenders for the imaginary “worst travel story prize”.
That story can only be topped by “being mugged at gun point” or “going out to a party one night and waking up in another foreign country” (all true).
While the stories are incredible and the people you meet are amazing, making a new friend that is a traveller usually means that your Facebook friends list is ever increasing while your personal downtime decreasing as a result of trying to catch-up with them all face-to-face.
Sometimes a quick comment or “like” will have to suffice for a few months, or you can just have a big round up and invite everyone to a large gathering at a London park or a house party. Even then you will no doubt forget someone.
Sometimes I think that there should be some sort of indication, or countdown, on a person to indicate how long they will be in the country for. That way, it would be easier to decide, depending on the time they have left, if we’re going to be passing acquaintances, or new best friends.
Read more of Jacquie’s experiences as an expat:
Also visit her website www.neverendinghoneymoon.net
TOP IMAGE: By Adina Voicu, Via Pixabay