One of the coolest things about my living abroad experiences were all the friends that I met via the internet. Before J and I moved to the NL, I joined an internet board devoted to ladies living abroad. Tons of great women on the board under a myriad of circumstances: some moved due to work, some for love, some for school. All incredibly diverse, and all sharing a wealth of information on what it was like to live outside your comfort zone. Before we packed our bags, I frequented the board quite regularly, picking the minds of those who had gone before me, for any tidbit of advice I could get. And tidbits I got! Information on local customs, on what to bring and what to leave home, information on having children abroad, and personal experiences…it really ran the gamut!
Then, we got to the NL. And it took a little while to settle in and really get a feeling for what we’d got ourselves into. And the first few months, I was working from the apartment, and studying for the bar exam. So, I was pretty busy. But after that, I ventured out a little further…started meeting these women in person. A lot of people would think I’m crazy. “Meeting people OVER THE INTERNET?!” my mother would say…”Are you crazy?!” And, there was a smidge of concern in the back of my mind, but nothing too overwhelming. But then, I met T for the first time, in a train station in her town. I was looking around for her, the only picture I had of her were shots from her Facebook profile. And there she was! This tiny little scrap of a woman, 5+ months pregnant at the time, barely skating past five feet tall. We met up and talked for HOURS! It was amazing, to find someone who you connect with so closely, on the other side of the world.
Over the next three years, I’d find many more dear friends that I initially “met” on the internet prior to meeting in person. And I love them all, dearly. T continues to be one of my best friends, to this day, and I still keep in contact with a few of the other ladies, either by phone or internet. And though I’m now back in the US, we all still have this bond born of shared experience (and nurtured through genuine enjoyment of their company) that holds us all together still. It was, and continues to be, the biggest bright spot of my time spent overseas. I mean, don’t get me wrong…the travel was amazing, the foods were fabulous, the work experience was invaluable. But the biggest thing? It’s always been the people…the people are what are, and will continue to be for me, unforgettable.
So thanks, ladies. Thanks for picking me up when I needed it, smacking me around when I deserved it, and holding my hand when I was scared. I hold you all in my heart, and can’t wait until I see you again.