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Old 08.10.2011, 17:11
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Making friends

I am probably in a minority here, as I have been living here 24 years (moved here from the USA in 1987 because of a job). In such a long time I've seen it all...waves of friends that stayed for a while, then left...then starting over with the next wave. I had what I thought were close friends, both Swiss and non-Swiss, disappear on me, only to have a few reappear in my life many years later. I was 6 years single, saw feast and famine, had a few girlfriends, all who abruptly left my life. And then one didn't. We got married, and she had to repeat my experience, albeit with me as her partner. It took years for her to re-establish her career here, I have seen incredibly good and devastatingly bad times career-wise during that time, now working for my 7th employer (faced unemployment twice). Had two kids born here, and after thinking it not possible, finally made close Swiss friends all because our kids are friends with theirs (the ultimate "In" here I have discovered). Of the 20 or so friends made along the way, maybe half a dozen have stood the test of time and are what we consider "real" friends.

So, as much as I appreciate this forum, and knowing now how difficult and how much time it takes to make real friends, I wonder sometimes how effective it really is for establishing real bonds with people, as most of us are anonymous spectators here. The Internet seems to be both a blessing and a curse. When I moved here, there was no Internet.
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Old 08.10.2011, 17:20
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Re: Making friends

in 40 years, i'll probably be dead. what kind of permanence does one need?

i'm happy to be able to spend time with people i like today. maybe next year, they'll be gone, maybe not. maybe next year i'll meet new people, maybe not.

i'm cursed with a personality that tends to look to the future - however, i've learned to just get on and accept the 'now', after all, there are no guarantees that we will have anything more than that.
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Old 08.10.2011, 17:24
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Re: Making friends

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I am probably in a minority here, as I have been living here 24 years (moved here from the USA in 1987 because of a job). In such a long time I've seen it all...waves of friends that stayed for a while, then left...then starting over with the next wave. I had what I thought were close friends, both Swiss and non-Swiss, disappear on me, only to have a few reappear in my life many years later. I was 6 years single, saw feast and famine, had a few girlfriends, all who abruptly left my life. And then one didn't. We got married, and she had to repeat my experience, albeit with me as her partner. It took years for her to re-establish her career here, I have seen incredibly good and devastatingly bad times career-wise during that time, now working for my 7th employer (faced unemployment twice). Had two kids born here, and after thinking it not possible, finally made close Swiss friends all because our kids are friends with theirs (the ultimate "In" here I have discovered). Of the 20 or so friends made along the way, maybe half a dozen have stood the test of time and are what we consider "real" friends.

So, as much as I appreciate this forum, and knowing now how difficult and how much time it takes to make real friends, I wonder sometimes how effective it really is for establishing real bonds with people, as most of us are anonymous spectators here. The Internet seems to be both a blessing and a curse. When I moved here, there was no Internet.
Interesting perspective.

But I think this friendship thing is true of life in general, immaterial of location and situation .... best friend today, never seen again tomorrow .... c'est la vie.
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Old 08.10.2011, 17:27
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Re: Making friends

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Interesting perspective.

But I think this friendship thing is true of life in general, immaterial of location and situation .... best friend today, never seen again tomorrow .... c'est la vie.
Beautiful words! I totally agree.
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Old 09.10.2011, 11:55
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Re: Making friends

The word "friend" in English is one of the few times that the definition is so open to interpretation that it can confuse.

One person's friend, another's colleague, or acquaintance. It's all rather relative. I'd carry my friends over hot coals, blindfold under gunfire if I felt it neccesary, but how would you know that the reciprocal applies if you've never needed to find out?

The Germanic language differentiates clearly. A colleague or acquaintance is not in the same league as a "friend". From what I can ascertain true friends in under the German definition are childhood chums that grow up together, through thick and thin, not someone who you met at the gym and hooked up with on Facebook to see what their girlfriend looks like.
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Old 09.10.2011, 12:10
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Re: Making friends

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I am probably in a minority here, as I have been living here 24 years (moved here from the USA in 1987 because of a job).
Your minority will be expanded tomorrow by "1" as I join the 24 Club as well (moved here 10.10.87).
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Old 09.10.2011, 12:13
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Re: Making friends

Congrats to....oldies....
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Old 09.10.2011, 12:32
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Re: Making friends

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in 40 years, i'll probably be dead. what kind of permanence does one need?

i'm happy to be able to spend time with people i like today. maybe next year, they'll be gone, maybe not. maybe next year i'll meet new people, maybe not.

i'm cursed with a personality that tends to look to the future - however, i've learned to just get on and accept the 'now', after all, there are no guarantees that we will have anything more than that.
why "probably" ? I guess that you in 40 years will be in your 70ies,. and so still a young man, I mean a young retiree with lots of things ahead My mother came with me on holidays to Malta at age 84, to Jersey/ChannelIslands at 85 and to Beirut at age 86 . An aunt from Stein-am-Rhein at age 87 made a round-trip to China and at age 88 a Nile-Cruise in Egypt. Alright, consequences can be. An uncle of me in Hyères (Côte d'Azur) stopped hacking wood at age 100, at age 101 no longer wrote letters but only made phone-calls, at age 102 bade farewell by phone, and "went out" two weeks later

In contrast to that, my older brother passed away at age 46. So, true enough, nothing is guaranteed. So that we of course have to live with the possibility that we will not see next spring but also with the possibility that we will live on deeply into our 90ies. The number of people getting to above 95 in the past two decades has multiplied by at least factor 20 !

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Congrats to....oldies....
All a matter of perspectives ! I will never forget the father-in-law of my Godfather I met in Geneva in about 1976. He, a chap from Budapest, was 98 years old. And asked me about the age of my father And I stated "63", and he replied "ah, still a young man then ! " My cousin, up to such challenges always, intervened and said "Well, Opa, to YOU he may be a young man, to us he however is a rather "older gentleman". "

And what does "those young girls at the bank" mean ? My mother once wondered when hearing that from Dad, and went to the bank. Those "young girls" were between 35 and 50

************************************************** *****************************************

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Old 09.10.2011, 13:01
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Re: Making friends

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Your minority will be expanded tomorrow by "1" as I join the 24 Club as well (moved here 10.10.87).
Wow, from the license plate icon, I assume you came from California? So did I, Bay Area. Moved here in 1987. So, you must have had similar experiences as I have had. Zurich is also not the Zurich of 1987 either. California is also not the place it was. But what place is. Maybe only the moon.
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Old 09.10.2011, 13:11
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Re: Making friends

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waves of friends that stayed for a while, then left...then starting over with the next wave.
We're going through this some here. Growing up as a military brat, this is nothing new to me (it's always painful really), but it's first time for my Basler hubby who maybe grew up and out of friendships but never really had them abruptly move away.

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Of the 20 or so friends made along the way, maybe half a dozen have stood the test of time and are what we consider "real" friends.

So, as much as I appreciate this forum, and knowing now how difficult and how much time it takes to make real friends, I wonder sometimes how effective it really is for establishing real bonds with people, as most of us are anonymous spectators here. The Internet seems to be both a blessing and a curse. When I moved here, there was no Internet.
This part of this is very interesting to me.

I've "always" had cycles of friends, some we saw again years later, some not. Some I kept in touch with, some not. Classifying someone as something other than a "real" friend due to time or contact doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

To me, a "real" friend is someone who I can talk to about whatever, who feels they can talk to me about whatever, even if I only have the pleasure of them being directly in my life for a couple of years. Someone for whom, even if they woke me when they called or came over, I'd put on my robe and pull my brain together to try to talk (sensibly) to them about whatever is on their mind.

If that friend who felt comfortable enough to call on me at whatever time ends up exiting my life at some point, no matter how short or long their stay was, that doesn't make them less "real" a friend. It's their behavior, not their immediate presence, which determines how good or "real" a friend they are.
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Old 09.10.2011, 13:47
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Re: Making friends

You hit on a very interesting point.


"To me, a "real" friend is someone who I can talk to about whatever, who feels they can talk to me about whatever....." That describes this forum (as a collective).

"Someone for whom, even if they woke me when they called or came over, I'd put on my robe and pull my brain together to try to talk (sensibly) to them about whatever is on their mind..." You would probably freak out and call the police if someone from this forum showed up at your door.
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Old 09.10.2011, 14:22
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Re: Making friends

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"To me, a "real" friend is someone who I can talk to about whatever, who feels they can talk to me about whatever....." That describes this forum (as a collective).
Yes, it does. I realize that not everyone treats this forum like it is full of (potential) friends, but I do.

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"Someone for whom, even if they woke me when they called or came over, I'd put on my robe and pull my brain together to try to talk (sensibly) to them about whatever is on their mind..." You would probably freak out and call the police if someone from this forum showed up at your door.
Ah, but... maybe we've a unique situation in Basel? I believe there are at least some from Zürich and some from Lausanne / Geneva area as well that are similar to some of us Baslers though in that we WOULDN'T freak to see some of the forum members at our door. Actually, there are a few from outside of Basel I'd not freak over too, surprise and shock maybe, freak out in alarm, no.

There are a few from the forum whom I've met briefly who, if they need to, they are welcome to visit anytime if they need a chat. There is a double-handful of others (actually, maybe 15 or so) others, who if they were having a problem, would also be welcome on my doorstep. Of course, anyone who does would need to be a bit forgiving of my housekeeping style.

Because of MY situation, there's not a lot I can do to help but an ear for as long as needed and a meal or two here are something I can give.


Now, because of how open I tend to be, there are also a few I've met who I'd not be happy to see on my doorstep, but even among them, if one of them were truly in trouble, they too could rely on me to listen and do what I can to help. I'd not INVITE them you see, but I wouldn't call the police on them if they came to me in need either.
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Old 09.10.2011, 18:03
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Re: Making friends

You’ve been here for twenty-four years. That’s an achievement in itself worth saluting.

It is the sign of the times that people move a lot, changing their jobs and hopping from one country to another. Constancy is very hard to come by.

I am blessed to have some friends who are away and whom I do not have to contact regularly. Yet I know they are a costant in my life, although we see each other very rarely. Our bond is beyond the physical world if I may put it like this.

I have yet to discover if I’ll make such friends in Switzerland. I am really hopeful I will.

For now the EF satisfies my craving for meaningful human contact. All of us newbies (I’ve been here less than a year) have to find ways of filling the social void that we land into…
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Old 09.10.2011, 18:35
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Re: Making friends

I moved around a lot all my life. Made good friends, but either they moved, I moved, one passed away, but whenever I think on those times of friendship, I feel blessed that we got to experience life together for however long or short it was, and create some amazing memories.

These days I don't get to go out much, so I enjoy a way to talk to people, make acquaintances, even if it is online, and out of those acquaintances build some friendships and enjoy them to the full for how ever long they last.

I have met a few from EF, but could not say who they were on EF, simply because everyone has avatars, which they do not wear anywhere in order to identify themselves in real life.....totally should...
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Old 09.10.2011, 18:39
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Re: Making friends

If my friends from Basel show up at my door, I won't freak out. I'll be freaking excited they didn't forget about me....

Or is it because they want a B&B for the weekend?

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Old 09.10.2011, 18:48
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Re: Making friends

Two thoughts on an interesting and thought-provoking post by the OP:

1) I am reminded of a song lyric that goes something along the lines of "It's not where you are but who you are with that matters." That seems to speak to me about the unimportance of place (whether it be Switzerland for 24 years or 2 months in my case) but rather the people you surround yourself with. I always remind myself that nothing, even good times with friends, lasts forever given the transient nature of the expat community so I try my best to enjoy my experiences to the fullest and to appreciate those moments.

2) On a related note to that, a colleague once said to me that friends are really just people who you like, they like you, and you happen to be in the same place at the same time. Place and time change through life as people come and go through into and out of each others' lives. It is life, unfortunately. Of course, it is easy to get sentimental about somebody was a major presence in your life one day and then are absent from it a few weeks/months/years later.

So the bottom line from me is that the OP makes an interesting point, and my response is to just enjoy those friends and those moments with friends without worrying too much about whether they will be gone in a week/month/year/whenever.
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Old 09.10.2011, 18:51
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Re: Making friends

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Of the 20 or so friends made along the way, maybe half a dozen have stood the test of time and are what we consider "real" friends.
I would say that one is lucky to have six real friends at any point in life.
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Old 09.10.2011, 18:57
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Re: Making friends

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I have met a few from EF, but could not say who they were on EF, simply because everyone has avatars, which they do not wear anywhere in order to identify themselves in real life.....totally should...
Heh, it's funny, we both have. I do see the reason for privacy these days, though..

To the real friends vs virtual ones..Who are we to say to which intensity people let themselves relate to both real or virtual friends. Some are shy in real life, embrace internet, some prefer face to face and internet is awkward for them, they don't know how to verbalize efficiently, some pretend. But online communication is just a vehicle, it's up to us to make it real or not. I am glad I have met some fab folks through EF, and believe I still will. In a place where for a busy person engaged in millions of things it might be a tad hard to blend in immediately in the culture here, it provides a nice shortcut. Who says the friends we make here on EF aren't local, anyways. The actual physical distance is not so important, is it. You can keep friends all over, and I do.

I do feel that since I have made local friends long time ago, the quality of my life went up and up, it was a unique constellation of them knowing I am not just using them to figure out how to survive here, and me embracing different qualities I wouldn't normally really go for at home, since time at home flies differently and I apply a different social filter.

But I wouldn't diss online ways if people are themselves and do not abuse it to feed their hermit ways, if they use it to enhance their social world without being inhibited more...avoid immersion or contact with their environment (one can always feel in the complaint corner, some of the complainers just haven't gotten under the skin of life here yet so they hurt, somewhat).

Having local friends and colleagues to share my life with, and getting GA were the most important milestones here, hahaha...and re-discovering rumballs, yay!
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Old 09.10.2011, 19:20
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Re: Making friends

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I am probably in a minority here, as I have been living here 24 years (moved here from the USA in 1987 because of a job).
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Your minority will be expanded tomorrow by "1" as I join the 24 Club as well (moved here 10.10.87).
Beat you both, I did the same in '86 (but I am a Connecticut Yankee)!

Meanwhile, virtually all of my true friends are still here (or in Italy), six I've known more than 20 years, only one is American and one Italian, the rest Swiss (not counting some friends I left behind in the US). If I count my step-kids and another friend's son (who are all close friends), that's another three.

And another few I've known almost 20 years.

However, other than my wife, no new close friends in recent years. Oh, and she and I met via internet.

Tom

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Old 09.10.2011, 19:32
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Re: Making friends

What exactly is the subject ?

- the definition of a true friend ?
or
- are friends you make online (thus virtually) friends ?
In other words, is the internet a valid vehicle for creating genuine ties ?

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I'd carry my friends over hot coals, blindfold under gunfire if I felt it neccesary, but how would you know that the reciprocal applies if you've never needed to find out?
Why would you need to know ? If it's a true friend the reciprocal goes without saying. It just is.
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