Sunday, 19 August 2007

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Leaving picnicYesterday we went to a picnic leaving do for a lovely family we were fortunate to meet out here. We met them on a visit around a maternity ward back in January (see 'A fortuitous meeting') and have been firm friends ever since. The lady is American, married to a Lithuanian. Their baby daughter Josie was born just six days before April was born (our daughters actually shared the same due date). They are leaving for New York, for work purposes, but feel that they would have liked to stay in Cologne another year.

As you can see from the photo, loads of people came to wish them goodbye (and more turned up later). The picnic was both a celebration of the year they had here and a sad farewell.

I do hope that when we leave Cologne we will be this sad at leaving as I think that will be proof that what we had was good. I'd also like to think that loads of people will come to wish us farewell.

The event also made me ponder on the types of friendships you make as an expat. I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful people here, of so many backgrounds and nationalities. From a Russian translator, to a German astrophysicist, to an American editor...I have even met and become friends with one lady from Billericay, Essex, where I lived for several years, and one from my home county of Norfolk.

Expat friendships are subtly different to those back home as people tend to come and go more frequently. However, often friendships can become quite deep, quite quickly, as everyone is very open to the idea of making friends. And although friends may move on, I do think that they will remain friends for life.

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