bilan travels // Going Global: Friendships

Being a carbon copy of someone ethnically doesn’t guarantee a ‘BFF’ level of friendship.

In school, we are constantly told that diversity of thought is beneficial for all. It helps you better understand yourself when you listen to others with varying opinions. Fast forward to college where my friend group could serve as the poster image for our university’s diversity campaign. Diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, interests, you name it, we got it. How is it that such different individuals were able to come together so naturally? That is when the realization occurred. Being a carbon copy of someone ethnically doesn’t guarantee a ‘BFF’ level of friendship. Connecting with other individuals is all about two overlooked factors: mentality and effort.

Mentality: Drive, values, what you want out of life…these all fall under this bucket. When your mentality is comparable to that of someone else, you see the world in a similar way despite coming from different backgrounds. While upbringing and values can be key here, they do not necessarily paint the whole picture of someone. Mentality can be a major attraction factor in amorous relationships as well.

Effort: Between the effort to understand one another and the effort to build the friendship/relationship, there would be no foundation without effort. It is those calendar reminders to Skype each other or those texts with funny memes letting you know that you are thinking of them. It is the moments when you ask thoughtful questions to understand one another. Those moments when you take an interest in their culture, their background, who they are and where they come from. Understand that effort is in fact a two way street.

Between failed friendships and blossoming relationships, it is important to realize that anyone can truly befriend anyone. It is never worth it to pre-judge or stereotype someone by where they came from. Not all New Yorkers are rude and abrupt just as not all Californians are surfers looking for a gnarly wave. By doing your own research and ditching the assumptions, it becomes immensely easier to make friends abroad. In fact, your street credibility will skyrocket when people find out you have friends in different area codes. On the other hand, after all the planned visits, your bank account balance, not so much…


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