Are International Friendships Possible?
In the 1930s, finding pen pals became a new and exciting way for individuals to expand their social circle outside of their locales, and as modern technology progressed communicating with people internationally became easier. Having internet friends from across the globe rose in popularity in the 2000s as social media platforms grew. But during the pandemic, more people returned to snail mail and formed pen pal relationships once more. This calls back easier times where relationships would be formed over longer periods.
While there’s no doubt it is easier than ever to make international friends, the question is whether or not these relationships can be just as meaningful as the friendships you make with the people around you. Can you really form quality international friendships?
What makes a quality friendship?
The first thing you’ll need to know is what constitutes a quality friendship. This can include having someone you can easily talk to about anything from dumb stories to serious matters. A quality friendship means having someone you trust completely and wholeheartedly– who makes you feel safe.
If your friendship with someone is lacking these attributes, then there’s a chance that your relationship isn’t as strong as you think. It is also important to remember that friendship is a two-way street and that you should also be exhibiting these qualities to be considered a good friend. Creating a quality connection with someone can be difficult, but finding the right people can be extremely rewarding.
Why seek out an international friendship?
There are many benefits to building international friendships. The first thing is that you will be exposed to unfamiliar cultures and practices that will make you a more aware and open-minded individual.
You can also learn a new language. There are thousands of languages spoken all over the world so if you want to have a more hands-on learning experience, forming an international friendship is the way to go. Not only can friends overseas give you advice on how to sound more natural and native, but they can also let you know where you are making semantic mistakes. This can also work vice versa as you will be able to impart your culture and heritage to them and open their eyes to new perspectives.
Where can you meet international friends?
There are a few different avenues you can take if you want to make international friends. Social media is one of the most accessible platforms you can use to easily interact with people all over the world, and you can find individuals there who are looking to socialize with people outside of their country.
College is also another great place to make international friends. Statistics show that 4.6% of all enrollees in American institutions are comprised of international students. This means that you will have the opportunity to foster an organic friendship with them as well as learn about international topics such as politics, language, and current events which will make you an even better friend to those from other countries and cultures. Not only can these relationships make you a more well-rounded and aware individual, but these are connections you can use once you are in a professional setting.
How sustainable are these relationships?
It’s no secret that international friendships can require more maintenance than friendships you have made with people in your area because of the lack of proximity. There are no chances that you will run into your international friends at the grocery to have a quick catch-up and small talk. With these kinds of friends, almost every interaction is intentional.
There are many ways you can maintain these long-distance friendships. The first is to try and have a set time when you talk to them. This can range from having an hour in a day to message them or even blocking off a few hours on a weekend to schedule a fun activity you can do together via a virtual call. Like with normal friendships, you should also keep them in the loop when it comes to your achievements and difficulties. Making them feel like they are a part of your life will help you forge a stronger connection with them. Though international friendships may require more work than traditional ones, they are worth it if you find someone you truly trust.
After everything that’s been said, it’s obvious that it is possible to foster quality international friendships. Like with other relationships, what’s important is the effort you both put into it. Having a balanced and healthy connection with them will ensure that your friendship is worth a few inconveniences.
– By Anna Conner