Meeting friends whilst working and living abroad happens quite effortlessly, but these friendships can last a really long time, at least for me this was the case! Having recently returned home from a trip to Barcelona with some fellow Impact Teachers, it’s great to keep in touch with everyone and still be able to arrange meet-ups. Through a program like Impact Teaching, you get the opportunity to meet like-minded people of all ages and backgrounds. I now have friends from Canada, Romania, America, China, Poland and the U.K.!
One of the biggest obstacles to moving abroad is the fear of leaving old friendships – will you stay in touch? Will you still be able to see each other? Well, not only will your true friends remain, but you’ll also get the chance to make loads of new friends. Everyone you meet on your Impact journey is there for the same reason: they want to make a difference, gain new experiences and try something new. Although it’s a cliche, it’s helpful to remember that everyone is in the same boat and everyone wants to make friends with their fellow teachers. When I first arrived in Poland, I was instantly greeted by a group of 3 other teachers that I had already met through various group chats and zoom meetings. These people quickly became my close friends and really shaped my experience in Poland. These friendships can be intense, and they can happen very quickly, as you may live with these people as well as spending your free time together either travelling or seeing the sights of your new city. Not everyone you meet straight away has to be your best friend, but for me I have kept in touch with many of them.
Going back even further, I still keep in touch and very much value the friendships I made in Haining, China in 2018, and then in Huzhou in 2019. Again, you are navigating a new field and a new country, and you need to have support whilst you do this, as well as someone that speaks your language (literally!). When teaching abroad, you’ll often experience things you would never have the opportunity to experience in your home country, and sharing these experiences is a quick way to get a new best mate. Once I returned home, I found I often wanted to reminisce or laugh about things that happened during my time teaching abroad, and a quick phone call with a friend that was there made you feel a little less homesick (as once you’ve been there a while, it really does start to feel like home).
Overall, I cannot compare the friendships I have made abroad to any others. There is nothing quite like being the only foreigners visiting a small Polish town and having no clue what is going on. You’ll laugh about it for months afterwards, trust me. Now, many of my friends from Poland have moved on to do different things; however, with the powers of Instagram and WhatsApp I have been able to keep updated with their adventures as well as tell them about mine. We have group chats, zoom calls and meet ups as often as we can, and even though we aren’t in Poland anymore, we still have lots to update each other about!