Friendships Abroad – Emma’s Story

We continue our series on making friendships abroad with Emma Pettitt, who moved abroad in 2001. She has lived and worked in Prague, Lisbon, Valencia, and, currently, Milan, where she is a teacher with the British Council.

When I first considered moving abroad lots of people asked concerned questions like ‘But what if ….?’ For me, the scarier option was always ‘But what if I don’t?’

In fact I’d already moved abroad, in the strict sense of the word (yep, English teacher, can you tell?), when I left Manchester for eastern Scotland to go to university.Emma - Friendship blog

Twenty years down the line (cough) I find now it’s the people I met away from my ‘hometown’ who I keep in touch with and seek out when I have news or need advice. It’s the people I met who were in the same boat as me, who made the same leap; it’s those people who understand.

Like anywhere, you may not like everyone, but you’ll meet people you really click with, and because you’re not trapped by convention or tied to responsibilities like you are at home, you’ll do things with them that’s not drinking down the pub every Friday talking to the same people about the same things.

You’ll do stuff like taking the night train to another country for the weekend, getting a local bus to the middle of nowhere to see a castle, being caught in a thunderstorm and sheltering in a local cafe that happens to sell wine… When did you last do that with your friends from school?

You’ll find these people come from very different backgrounds from you and have done all sorts of things, and they’ll find the same about you. It’s these people that you’ll turn to because of all the things you’ve shared that don’t depend on having been to the same primary school, but on really having something in common. And having the guts to leave ‘home’ in the first place is a great ice-breaker to kick-start a friendship.