The older we become, the harder it gets to make friends.
This is what I’ve learned in my late 20s.
When high school and college times are far behind you, the dozens of friends you used to have slowly vanish from your life.
It's not because you don't want to stay in touch; you've just grown apart.
At this point in your life, not everyone you meet at a party or happy hour becomes your friend.
Friendship now has more of a value; it becomes rare.
But, miracles happen.
What I’ve witnessed throughout the last five years of my life is that making friends abroad totally changes your perspective on everything, and it's probably the most rewarding experience you can have.
As our generation becomes more financially independent, we're eager to travel the world and experience things outside of a seasonal shopping spree or clichéd spring break vacation.
And when I say traveling, I mean jetting off to a different continent or an exotic country.
You go to places where you can watch a new culture shape your new self, where you can grow emotionally and spiritually and where you can establish fresh lifelong friendships.
Throughout my years of traveling, I've developed a close network of international friends who not only broadened my vistas, but also helped me discover a new version of myself.
Here are the advantages of having friends who live thousands of miles away from you:
1. Distance is more about connection than separation.
Distance kills relationships, but not friendships.
International friends are always there for you, no matter how many miles separate you.
We live in a very well-connected world.
With all the social media applications and chats, you can be in touch any time.
So, you can’t really feel that distance.
2. They will never ditch you.
You can call your friends from China or India in the middle of the night to talk about everything, and they will always listen to you.
This is because they feel as tenderhearted as you do about the relationships you’ve built.
Your connection is special.
3. The cultural differences will revamp you.
International friendships make you crave to explore not only other parts of the world, but also unknown corners of your mind and soul.
You become more open, more tolerant and more attentive.
Interesting conversations make you want to learn and listen, and you will try to understand other perspectives on issues and events.
4. Thinking outside of the box is inspiring.
When talking to representatives of other countries, your thinking capabilities and understanding skills go beyond your society's prejudices and stigmas about different countries and nationalities.
You are forming your own conclusions based on your personal experiences, not from what you’ve heard.
5. Traveling the globe has never been as easy as it is now.
Book a ticket and visit your friends.
Explore their countries with the locals.
Your friends will take you to local restaurants and hangout places that you would have never find on your own.
They will do their best to present their countries in the best light for you to enjoy your stay.
Meanwhile, don’t forget that you represent your country as well.
You must always portray your cultural heritage beyond any foreign preconceptions.
6. Friendship communications get on a different level.
There’s no need to be in touch 24/7.
But whenever you need each other — even you haven’t talked in months — you’ll always be there.
There are no disappointments if someone didn’t return a call or a text right away.
In the back of your mind, you know it was not done intentionally.
Time difference can complicate things a little.
It actually sucks.
But if there is a will, there are ways to make it work.
7. Don’t be surprised when your thinking habits change.
Having friends from all over the world will subconsciously influence your thinking habits.
International friends give you many different perspectives.
You start thinking and feeling everything globally, rather than judging things from just your country's standards.
8. Your experiences will bind you together forever.
For some reason, international friendships thrive with time.
We cherish our connections from all over the globe because they are special.
They are based on the days we spent together, the conversations we had, the things we saw and the stories we shared.
The relationships we build with international people strengthen with time, and they truly make us global people.
Our borders are wiped with loyalty, respect and love.
To my dear friends from all over the world, thank you for enriching my life.