Over the years, I have built quite a diverse list of travel friends from different countries from different parts of the world. Some of them I got very close with while others I met just for a few moments. Some of them I keep in touch with regularly, but for the majority, it is hard to keep in touch. Sure it is easy to be convinced that when you meet someone you really enjoy, you may have just formed a lifelong friendship from a different country, but what happens when you both return to your home countries and life returns to how it used to be before you met?
Things will change. In some cases, you will not hear from each other near as often. In other cases, you will hear from each other more than enough for the limited amount of memories you have shared. Only in rare occasions will the conversations remain as comfortable as when you were with each other.
That is why I believe in a thing I call fine-line friendships. A fine-line friendship remains strongest when both sides accept that your friendship has to be different when you leave each other. There’s a fine line when keeping “in touch” between forcing it and keeping it comfortable. I, myself, struggle to find this line with some people. The quicker you can find this line with an across-the-world friend, the more natural a friendship will remain.
There is going to be difficult times when you do not hear from friends for months at a time; friends who you shared the closest bonds with. But finding that fine-line means understanding that even with little communication, there is trust that you can reunite and it will be like you never left each other. Fine-line friendships mean being able to contact each other and say, “Hey, I am coming through your country; we should try to meet up”. And the other friend instantly clears their schedule to show them around for a week with no hesitations. If you find a really good connection, maybe one day you will live in the same country again. Fate has a way of working itself out.
The true beauty of meeting friends on the road is the process in which you become friends. Your comfort levels are thrown out of the window and the entire friendship process is sped up ten speed. When you know you only have months, days, or even hours with a new friend, it forces you to speed up your trust in them. You open up quicker than you would to almost all of your friends you’ve known from back home for years. This can be both scary and beautiful in a world that lacks trust. My general rule: trust someone until they prove they can’t be trusted.
International friendships are a beautiful thing. They can teach you so much about other cultures, your own culture, and ultimately inspire you to learn more about the world. But they take work to maintain. Luckily, most international friendships start from two like-minded, open-minded people and generally, the friends that you make will remain your friends forever; even if the friendship has to be different than when you first met.