Having friendships in your life is very important. It’s always good to have a person that you can talk with, share good things with, and lean on for support when that is what you need in your life. Having a group of friends who can fill these needs is something that you need to cultivate and nourish so that these folks will be around at the times when you need them.
If you decide to pull up stakes and make a move halfway around the world, that can be a time when you need a good friend or two that can help you overcome the challenges that you will face. Making such a huge move, no matter how prepared you think you are, is a traumatic time. There is so much uncertainty, and you will certainly have doubts if you are making the right move or not. I did find when I moved here that having a few good friends around me was very helpful.
Of course, if you move to the Philippines, you can expect that most of your friends will be Filipino. Nothing wrong with that, I mean if we didn’t like Filipinos we would not even consider moving here, right? And, as expected, I have lots of Filipino friends myself. One thing that I hear from a lot of foreigners who want to move here is that they don’t want to have foreigner friends. For example, I’ve been told by Americans:
“If I wanted a bunch of American friends, I would stay in America.”
Of course, this goes for other nationalities too. But, is this really the case?
During this year, I met, and have developed a close friendship with John Grant, another writer here on the LiP Web Magazine. John and I met at a meeting here in Davao, and from the first time that I met, I could feel a connection that we had. Our pasts were similar, we both had worked in similar businesses in our younger days, and we had many similar interests as well. It didn’t take long, and John and I were regularly getting together. It is the same also with Klaus Doring, I met Klaus earlier this year, and we quickly became good friends.
Now, I want to say something that could be taken as being controversial, or demeaning to Filipinos… but that is not my intention at all. I feel that, for an expat, it is important to have some friends who are not Filipino too. Why? Well, in the past weeks, both Klaus and AmericanLola have written articles about Filipino Humor. In both cases they came to the conclusion that some humor of Filipinos doesn’t translate, and simply isn’t funny to an American or a German. This can be extended – some British humor is not funny to Americans. American humor is not always funny to Filipinos. It’s a cultural thing, and a language thing. It doesn’t mean that Americans are too stupid to understand the British comedy, it is just often outside our cultural experience.
When it comes to friendships, the same thing that happens with humor can be seen. For example, with many of my Filipino friends, I can often feel during our conversation that they are not really understanding what I am saying. I am sure that they understand all the words, but there is something unspoken that doesn’t get through, because we have different cultural backgrounds. They have experienced things that I have no idea about, and again, I have experienced things that have never entered their minds.
In the case of John and I, even though we are different nationalities (he is British, I am American) we have an understanding of each other. Often times, John will tell me that he wants to get together for some quality conversation, because of our common understanding, we are able to share things with each other and each of us understands the other.
I feel that when you decide to live in another culture, like I have, having friends that are both from your new culture and your old culture is an important thing. You can expand your horizons by listening to and trying to understand friends from your new culture, and you can also go back to the comfort of your old culture through friends with a background similar to yours.