The idea for this post came from one of my readers. She wanted to know if I ever feel lonely and weather I have made any friends here in Malta. I think this questions is so good that it deserves a post of its own. Friends are one of the most important thing in life, but I have to admit that an unsteady life of travel creates some obstacles to both new friendships that you make abroad and the old ones that you have at home. Now I have been living abroad for three years, I’ve been backpacking, living on the road, settled down for a moment just to tear myself away again. The focus of my life has been my desire to see the world and gather different experiences, not friendships or any relationships. And in the mids of all this amazingness and excitement I have at times faced a truth of another kind: I have been painfully lonely.
During my first year in Australia I felt lonely the most, even though I spent every moment with other people. I was living at hostels, on a farm, or always travelling with someone to somewhere. I met new people every day, I had the same small talks and performed all the same get-to-know rituals. I knew that I would never see those people again and their names didn’t stick my mind. They were buried somewhere in the deep ocean of my Facebook friend list, just to be forgotten. I was more social than ever, and paradoxically more lonely than ever in my life. I felt that no one is really stopping to see the person I really was behind the chitchat, laughter and jokes.
During my second year in Australia, I was working at one place and living in Melbourne for six months. My work mates became quite close and I hang out with them on my free time. My roommates become my second family with whom shared the laughter and tears. I managed to get to know a couple of locals, even though our life circles did not collide that easily.
Here in Malta, getting to know new people is easier than in Australia. That’s at least my opinion. Many people move to Malta to live and work, whereas people on a working holiday visa move to Australia to explore and travel, not to stay in one place. In Malta, us foreigners live and work in the same area, so getting friends happens almost without any effort. Still I feel really lucky having met a couple of persons that I feel very close with and to whom I can tell all my thoughts. Those feelings of loneliness that I felt in Australia, are long gone.
Getting to know the locals is not that simple in Malta. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that the Maltese are quite open to make friends with the other Europeans. However, usually the Maltese work in different industries and live in different areas so you end up co-habit this island but still live in your own bubbles. Well, at least some girls from my work have found Maltese boyfriends, so I have managed to know some locals a bit better.
How about friendships back home? When it comes to my closest friends, I don’t think that physical distance will break it. We share so much history that whenever we see, we will just continue where we left. But with more distant friends and acquaintances it can be a different story. Sometimes I feel that our worlds might be too much apart and there isn’t a lot anymore to relate to. Then these relationships just slowly fade away as a natural course of life.
The most I feel sorry losing close friends that I have met during my travels. When you share with some unique experience with someone (like you often do when travelling or living abroad), you suddenly become each other’s best friends. No one else understands so well what you are going through than that other person and you often pour your inner depths to this new friend. But when one or both of you continue their travels, your close friendship starts getting weaker and weaker. Once you don’t message every day, then you just give a random like to the other person’s post, and sooner you realise, your friendship is nothing more than a distant memory.
This time I feel however, that I have such persons in my life, who they will stay no matter where I am heading to next. I am so grateful that the feelings of loneliness that I had during my first Australia year, are long gone. Even though travelling has created challenges to friendships and other relationships, it has also brought so many amazing people into my life.