What similarities unite the group of people pictured above? They are all university students, they all share a passion for philosophy, but most importantly they all share a sacred bond called friendship… That’s a super sappy way to start things, I know, but by the end of this, you’ll understand why I’ve already invested so much emotion into writing this blog post.
Picture yourself over 8,000 miles away from home, in another country that feels like another world. There are plenty of people in this strange new land, but each person is as new as the area around you. With nothing around that feels familiar, what would you cling to? What are you instinctively drawn to in order to make yourself feel comfortable in an uncomfortable place? Personally, I am drawn to the company of like-minded individuals. People who share some of my interests and my sense of humor (that second one is especially important). There’s just one problem: in this new land, the like-minded individuals aren’t always easy to find. Many times finding them requires an exceptional amount of effort. Plus, it will take even more time and energy in order to deduce whether their personality is even compatible with your own! However, the reward for continuing to apply yourself to multiple conversations and interactions is that you will form a group of friends with which you can have fun doing just about anything. Singing karaoke in front of multiple strangers, having dinner with rabbits, and watching the sunrise on a perfectly timed overcast day- these will all become pleasantly enjoyable with the addition of friends.
The picture shown above was taken on the night that my friends and I had our dinner with rabbits. The rabbits were outside during the meal, but their frequent attempts at escape often made them unintentional party guests. Although we were first acquainted with one another through our shared passion for philosophy, the friend group itself formed upon the realization that we could all be comfortable sharing just about anything with one another. Had a hard time at work today? Let’s talk about that! Happy about your performance on a recent exam? Tell us about the confidence that gave you! Got a meme about waking up early on the weekend? Share it with the group on FaceBook #relatable #sleepySaturday #snoringSunday
What I learned from that dinner, and throughout my semester abroad, is that passion is a powerful tool for bringing people together. The fact that all of us could sit in a living room and discuss the ethics of zombies running on treadmills to produce electricity for humans without any hesitation whatsoever speaks to the excitement each and every person had for all things philosophy. Beyond that, I also learned that the friendships I’ve formed throughout my life have much more meaning than I often give credit. Without these friends, I would have spent my final night in New Zealand on my bed watching who knows what on my laptop, but instead I saw a two-person play and sang karaoke jams. Without these friends, I would have spent my final morning in New Zealand packing my suitcase and waiting for a cab, but instead I woke up early to watch a sunrise, say my last goodbyes, and ride to the airport singing along to the radio with a friend. Without these friends, I would certainly be an entirely different person.
I think the most meaningful part of this whole story is that each and every person in that picture was willing to commit time and effort toward our friendship despite the fact that we might not ever find each other in the same room ever again. The internet does a wonderful job of keeping us connected, but even if I do get back to New Zealand one day (hopefully!), it’s not guaranteed that we would be able to meet again. Regardless, they came together and held a farewell dinner for me before I flew out of their wonderful country. Whether they know it or not, this was the best night of my entire semester abroad… but visiting Hobbiton was my best day!
Now that I bring this post to a close, I’d like to thank each and every person in this picture one last time for an amazing final week in the strange new land of New Zealand. You made my experience unforgettable and especially meaningful. May we meet again someday when we’ve all become much wiser and no less exciting ~