It’s no secret that Caroline and I gush about our friendships with the internationals at Butler. Helping students from all over the world experience American culture was a truly special time in college. Normal day-to-day activities, like shopping at Walmart, turned into hilarious adventures.
But a big reason behind their spontaneous attitudes was the timestamp. Our friends only had four months to really embrace everything the U.S. had to offer - including our friendship. The reality is that you share these experiences and memories with people that will go back home...thousands of miles away. What then?
In full transparency, you’ll probably check in with them randomly throughout the year after they’re back home, but then life gets in the way. You have to work against crazy time differences and learn how to communicate and maintain a friendship virtually. It’s a lot of work...and sometimes it’s enough just to look back on those memories and cherish that friendship for what it was in the moment.
With our friend, Mai, we’ve also all made huge efforts in going on trips together, like to Berlin last March. So if you can’t tell by now, the big takeaway is effort. If you and said international friend are both invested in staying connected even continents apart, it can happen. But keep your eyes wide open because this isn’t a typical friendship:
-Be extra clear when communicating, especially if there’s a language barrier
-Check in every month to know what’s up in their lives
-Know that Facetime/Skype will be challenging to schedule with different time zones
-Don’t get discouraged if responses are lax, but also be upfront of what you need for this friendship to be successful (spoiler: this applies to ALL adult friendships)
-Plan a visit! Either find new places to travel together or figure out a stopover on your next vacation. This gives you something to look forward to and have another topic to talk about