On becoming an expat, friendship and one-way relationships

When you first announce to friends and family that you're moving abroad, it's always a mixed bag of reactions. Whilst most are supportive and are excited for you, there's always those few that question your decision and your future (or do not react at all). Luckily when we announced we were moving to Australia after I had finished my Masters degree, most people were supportive- we knew before I accepted my Masters offer that we would be there afterwards, so it wasn't exactly a surprise to most. 

During my Masters year it was odd; I'd just finished my undergrad course and moved back home, and decided doing a Masters was what I wanted to do. Most of my friends from uni were from the South of England (mostly London), and since graduating have either returned to live at home or have eventually moved into their own places in the London area. I actually found it incredibly difficult to keep in contact with many of them on a regular basis since graduating- I have always been that person who has been friends with everyone, so have had more than just one group of friends. I have 3 'sets' of friends; a group of friends I kept in contact with back at home whilst I was at uni, some friends from secondary school who were not in this group, a group of friends at uni in the year above, a group of friends in my year group and then many 'random' friends in my year group who were either on my course or who I had met somehow along the line. As that person who did have friends from different groups, I became incredibly aware of how many people dedicated their time to doing EVERYTHING with one group of tight-knit friends, and I kind of became that person who was only able to spend X amount of time with any one group at a time. During my Masters year I managed to meet up with my 'home' friends a couple of times, group of friends from the year above at uni a couple of times, and the group of friends from my year at uni a grand total of zero times. Alongside working part-time and doing my Masters, it was incredibly difficult to spend my time traveling to see people (I would always have to travel down South, as that is where most of them are located).  It actually got to the stage where as I couldn't meet up on a few occasions, I was no longer invited or even contacted anymore by certain people, even from back at home.

I've come to realise that some of these friendships I have had were very black or white. After announcing my big move I heard nothing from one particular group of friends (aside from one who I'm incredibly close to!) about meeting up or even well wishes for my next adventure. Hell, I didn't even hear anything when they found out my grandma had died after living with some of them who knew I visited her several times a week... and I think it is because I haven't spent time with them since graduating. In their minds- we haven't seen her for x amount of time= we aren't friends anymore, and it's sad. I'm not really sure how they thought I was ever going to be able to maintain being friends with them after moving to Australia in that mindset, and it hurts. When you think people care but when it comes to the crunch they do anything but, it really does hurt, but do I want those people in my life? Probably not. I honestly feel like I have made effort (yes I could have probably made a little more but I have wished happy birthdays, engagements and sent cards to them if someone has died in their family), yet failed to get any kind of thing in return. Even now, most of my friends from home have made zero contact since I've moved half way across the world. As someone who is quite sensitive I have found it difficult, but I've come to realise even more since becoming an expat, that friendship is a two-way street. For most of my life I have always tried my hardest with so many people and a lot of the time I have had minimal effort in return. I guess part of growing up is learning how to weed out those relationships and know when you have outgrown certain friendships.

The other week I went through my Facebook account and deleted so many of these one-way friendships. Yes I spent most of my school years with her and even went on holiday with her, but realistically has she ever been there for me? Was I always putting in the effort without any return? Yes- and I hit the delete button. Was I  even friends with this person in secondary school, did I ever utter more than a few words to them in the many years I was there? No- delete! It honestly felt so good to remove so many associates and negative people in my life- it's a bit weird that we live in a world now where anyone can see what you are up to at any given time.

Friendship is a funny old thing, and something I'm now battling with here in Australia: how the hell do I make new friends at the grand age of 24?! I've made friends at work, but there's a pretty big age difference between me and them for the most part. This being an adult thing ain't easy...but moving abroad definitely highlighted to me how much I want my friendships to be real, 2-way and anything but high maintenance! I'm so lucky to have some people in my life who fit into this category.

What's your experience with moving abroad and your friendships back at home, or even your friendships from school/uni? Are you still friends with them or did you drift?

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