What happens after living abroad? What happens with all those new friendships you’ve made? Well, it’s completely up to you! This story tells how great it can be if you just remember to keep in contact with those friends!
I recently wrote about the positives of living abroad giving a few reasons why I think everyone should experience all the joys and sorrows of living abroad at least once in their life. Personally I think the most important lesson learned when living abroad is understanding the importance of home. You will learn to appreciate even the tiniest little things at home when you have to live without them for a while.
Secondly, the most meaningful thing for myself would be the people I have met and friendships I have created. I also pointed out how having a large international circle of friends will broaden your mind also in the aspect of travel.
Thanks to having friends all over the world, you’ll get brand new ideas for planning your future travels. You won’t only see and experience a new destination, but will also meet a dear friend, or many of them, that you haven’t seen for a long time. They might live in such destination you wouldn’t have realized to travel to without your friend or friends. A very good friend will also be your tour guide during your visit, or even offer accommodation.
The more the merrier. A group of friends in the night of Düsseldorf some time in 2014.
I received many interesting comments and contacts thanks to that specific blog post, mostly about the topic of making friends and keeping contact with them. So many of my readers told me how all their contacts have been lost after a while. Some might still be friends on Facebook, but there hasn’t been any sort of communication from one way or another for months, maybe even years.
Maintaining a friendship always requires work from both parties. No one keeps trying forever, if the other half doesn’t give anything back. Perhaps this kind of friendship never had any deeper meaning for either person. However, I am not writing this post to give you a lecture about cherishing friendships, but to give you an example how I have experienced the issue. An example of when everything goes well and contact won’t be lost.
As my long-time followers probably know, I spent half of last last year living in Düsseldorf, Germany, working for the hotel search engine trivago.
I moved to Düsseldorf approximately a year and a half ago, in February 2014. At the time there was about 400 employees from 40 different countries working in two different office buildings at the head office of trivago.
Once you have that many colleagues, it’s obvious you can’t become super close with absolutely everyone. Not everyone can be the trusted one, the one that you can share your laughter and tears with, perhaps even an occasional hissy fit. With that many people around, it’s impossible even to learn everyone’s name by heart.
trivago is quite a unique place to work, especially because the company provides so many reasons to spend a lot of time together also outside of office hours. There are team events, games and drinks, barbecue parties, sports and other hobbies, trips and events… So the base for creating meaningful and deep relationships is already there. Actually, a German newspaper Bild just published an article about trivago being ranked as number 2 of the companies offering best work-life balance in the whole of Germany.
I don’t doubt this one bit. trivago doesn’t only look after their current employees, but also their ex-employees. We are now called trivago alumnis.
At the start of the summer I received an invitation to the trivago summer party in Düsseldorf at the end of June. As some of you might remember, I was pondering quite a while if I can put a price for the joy of reunion, as the flights were quite expensive. The result was… no, I can’t! After all, it wasn’t about meeting one or two good friends after months, but getting back together with dozens of good friends. Add a few hundred acquaintances, even though not every colleague became as close as some certain ones.
That said, in June I travelled back to Düsseldorf for a quick weekend visit. How did it feel to return back to my old office after 10 months? How did feel to meet up with all the closest friends and all the ex-colleagues after being gone for nearly a year?
After landing at Düsseldorf airport on a sunny and warm June morning, I took the familiar route heading directly for the office. Just before the pedestrian bridge, a few steps from the offices, I had to stop and take a deep breath. Suddenly I was standing in front of the very same bridge I crossed every single morning on my way to work for six months. For a long time I saw those familiar buildings rising over the treetops. It felt so unreal. “Am I really here again?”
At the same time I was extremely excited. Once I arrived at the square in front of the buildings, I already saw a dozen familiar faces. Some of them knew I was arriving any minute, some happened to stand there having a cigarette or a chat. It all came back to me. “I love to be here again!”
After the first reunion hugs and screams of joy, I stepped into the building I used to work at. Suddenly everything was like it used to be. Except it wasn’t. The amount of people in the company had doubled. The amount of office buildings had increased by one. And many dear friends I would have loved to see again were missing. But most of my closest friends and my old team mates I met already in the morning. How great was that!?
trivago definitely knows how to take care of their employees – including us ‘old ones’. The official program of the day started with a brunch. And with some sparkling. After the brunch we took a tour around the new facilities together with other alumnis.
After the office tour we took buses to the party location in Niederkassel, next to the river Rhine, where the fridges were already full of refreshing drinks and there was a lovely smell of barbecue in the air. Again we eat. I had a lovely evening ahead of me, surrounded by these fantastic people. Again it all came back to me, stronger than ever before. All the memories of living ‘trivago life’. Suddenly I felt like I never even left. What a weird and incredible ecstasy I was experiencing at that very moment. And it lasted for the whole evening. And for the whole weekend.
The summer party was a perfect reason to return to my former home town. I had a chance to meet everyone at once without having a hectic schedule and panic of have I got enough time to get together and catch up with all the people during one short weekend. And the rest of that short weekend, when the party was over, I got to spend with exactly the people I love the most. The ones I still stay regularly in contact with. Maybe not every day, not even every week, but at least once in a month or two.
Best in life. Having a picnic in a park with good friends, classy as always! Super huge thanks to dear Claude for accommodating me, you were an amazing hostess! <3
Now when I look back at my trip I made about a month ago, I could not even imagine there was a chance of skipping it. No way, I had to go, no matter how much the flights cost. There are certain things in life that can not be measured in money. Good friends are one of the most important ones. Make sure you won’t lose contact with them.
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