I moved from London to Frankfurt in August 2016 and although it’s only a one-hour flight away, I tried my best, especially during my first year, to make sure I built a life for myself in Frankfurt without allowing myself to feel like I still live in London. I did this by having very few visitors to begin with, making every effort to make new friends and get to know my new city, and only visiting home 3 times (twice for Christmas and once for my birthday) during my first 18 months abroad. “Was that really necessary?”, you might ask. For me, yes. I am still very active on WhatsApp with my friends from London and we have phone calls all the time but whilst this contact is extremely important, it was also essential for me to detach myself from that life in some way. I don’t want to feel as though I live in two different countries at the same time.
Doing this has enabled me to settle well, make Frankfurt my home and eventually have lots of visitors from the UK. But now, even more so than ever before, I cherish holidays abroad (from both London and Frankfurt) with friends from home. But these holidays have their pros and cons because they almost take you into a false reality.
I am writing this post whilst on holiday with friends from the UK, sat by the pool of a villa in Ghana. I’ve been reflecting on how amazing it is to be back with my friends I have known for 15 years and that we can see each other on a daily basis, almost like when we were at school. We laugh a lot, do stupid dances together and make up the funniest games on long excursion journeys. However, whilst having the best time in the sun, I sometimes see a grey cloud when it dawns on me that this is almost a false reality. I guess it’s the same for us all because holidays don’t last forever, but I don’t know when I will next see some of these friends again and it saddens me that we can’t just quickly meet up for an hour next week, for example, to catch up.
Someone recently said to me that I am very much still involved in my friendships back home and now that I’ve moved abroad “that won’t last forever.” But maintaining friendships is very important to me. I have been away for nearly 2 years and have numerous friendship circles. I don’t find it difficult to stay in contact with people and see no reason to let years of friendship go down the drain just because I now live in a different country with a one-hour time difference.
Going on holidays and having visitors allow real quality time without having to keep an eye on the clock to make sure I’m not late for the next thing I am doing. Our holiday in Ghana is amazing. Nothing about old friendships has changed and we laugh so much at old times and continue to make new memories. But as much fun as I am having, it sometimes dawns on me that whilst my friends return to the UK, I’ll return to Germany. The place I always longed to be, yet sometimes remains a bitter sweet reality as I long for my friendships back home.