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British Expat Newsletter:
25 April 2007

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter. Dave’s having a go at it this week.

In this issue

  • This week: Losing touch
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

One of the hazards of living a nomadic existence is that inevitably it becomes more difficult to keep in touch with friends.

Part of the reason is the sheer physical separation. If you’re not seeing people day in, day out then you have to make a conscious effort to bring them to mind and maintain the contact. Of course, it’s much easier to do that these days with the ubiquity of email and (with broadband connections) VOIP telephony – if you and the friends you’ve left behind have Skype, then you can still chat for nothing. But if you’re engaged in a brand new social whirl on arrival in your new home country, then it gets hard to find time to keep up the old circle of friends.

All the more so if you’re moving on every few years. If you’re serving in the armed forces or working for the government overseas, it’s usual to have to up sticks and move every three years or so. Likewise, if you’re a freelancer of whatever description – maybe working in the aid sector, or as a consultant in one particular field of business – then you’ll find yourself faced with the same situation every time your contract comes to an end, unless of course you can find another contract in the same city or country.

So what’s the consequence? Well, I suppose that friendships tend to be rather superficial. Not so much that you pick people up and drop them at your convenience, simply that you get used to letting them peter out when you move on. It’s nice when you receive the odd email from them every now and then, and if you happen to bump into them again in your life then you may be able to pick up where you left off. If they’re expats themselves, the chances are that they’re also used to the constant moving around, which makes the whole process much easier.

With friends who stayed in the home town or village, though, it’s much harder. After a while you lose track of what’s been going on with each other. For the people who stayed behind, it may be hard to imagine what life’s like overseas. (We know of people who’ve never left the UK and have no interest in going abroad.) So after the first few attempts to explain your new situation, you get used to the eyes glazing over and simply don’t raise the subject. But it can happen the other way round, too. For starters, it gets more difficult to keep track of what has changed in your home area as time goes on. But as well as that, the changes may seem somehow less important than they would be if you were living there (after all, they no longer affect you directly) or they may simply alienate you from the area – it’s no longer the place you knew when you were younger.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to maintain friendships in spite of the separations of distance and lifestyle. People can and do manage this – I’m still in touch with my best pal from university after 23 years, even though I’ve only seen him comparatively rarely in recent years. But close friends like this are the exception. With others, it’s nice to hear how they’re doing from time to time; sites like Friends Reunited, and even Google searches, can help you find out what happened to all your old pals. But if you tried to maintain all those old friendships, you’d never have time to make any new ones in your new home country.

Small wonder, I suppose, that many people find it impossible to return to the UK permanently once they’re bitten by the expat bug.

Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

[Obsolete content and links removed]

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • silence can cause
  • sexual life of sumerians
  • kgb on steroids
  • nonverbal lean back in chair
  • marlin quay rodney
  • beercrocombe photographs
  • virtual makeover village
  • challanges before internet banking
  • mums sunshine coast
  • gralloched

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Dave
Deputy Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, US human rights activist (1884-1962)

Joke

While waiting for my first appointment in the reception room of a new dentist, I noticed his certificate, which bore his full name. Suddenly, I remembered that a tall, handsome boy with the same name had been in the same class as me some 35 years ago.

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought. This balding, grey-haired man with the deeply lined face was surely too old to have been my classmate.

After he had examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended the local school.

“Yes,” he replied.

“When did you leave school?” I asked.

“1972.”

“Crikey, you were in my class!” I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely, and then asked, “What did you teach?”

PG Author: Dave

Dave was bitten by the expat bug at the age of 13 when he went to live in Germany. Since leaving school at the age of 30 (with a doctorate in something so obscure even he can't remember what it's about) he's also lived in Bangladesh, India and Thailand, and travelled to most European countries (including several that don't exist any more, though he denies responsibility), as well as Barbados, South Korea, St Vincent, UAE, Laos, and many more.

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