One of the most unfortunate aspects of being an overseas expat is the simple but inevitable fact that you must continually part ways with close friends. When you work in an expat situation and experience extreme highs and even more intense lows, these people become your surrogate family.
Unlike other environments, rarely would you find a job where you’d find yourself stranded together because of massive flooding, and evacuated together in the back of a military truck. You’d scarcely find yourself discussing ways of coping should Avian Flu come to a head, changing life dramatically. You hopefully would never witness the death of your very own leader who had become a father figure to all in this close-knit environment, and the subsequent painful healing afterwards.
Dealing with these issues brings people closer than the average workplace. The fact that in many ways you’re isolated due to the language constraints only amplifies this bond. When vacation time arises, most often you’re traveling together, and experiencing the cultural differences and quirks together. These experiences form memories that time will not tarnish.
It’s only when your friends begin seeking new contracts in other countries, or start moving back to where they originated from that you remember that this is all temporary – that all of us will move on in one way or another in due time. Am I thankful I’ve remained in Indonesia this long? Of course. Have I met some amazing people? Definitely. It’s better to have made these connections and then lost them, rather than to never have made them in the first place.
But like a layer of fresh snow in the April sunlight, it’s fleeting and ephemeral.
Ultimately, we are all transient.