Expat friendship – or instant family

Recently, a few tricky situations forced me to actually ask for help from  someone I had only met about one year ago. And I was immediately offered a helping hand, right then and there, at the moment I needed it the most. After that, I started to ask myself questions about the meaning of the new bonds expatriates create.

It was our first weekend away as a family in the new year, and we were all very excited about it. But, as every family with young kids knows, the probability of ‘unpredictable things’ happening is always quite high. After a couple of hours’ drive, we checked in at this amazing family friendly spot and started talking about the many activities we would do with our friends who had come with us. Well, after just a couple of hours of fun, our baby got seriously ill, and we were advised to go directly to the nearest hospital. And the nearest hospital was a tiny little hospital in the middle of nowhere with a non-permanent doctor who were supposedly on call for three different hospitals at the same time.

© Michael Brown |

The moment all of this happened, our dear new expat friends offered their precious help, looking after our four year old boy, making sure he wouldn’t realize the potential seriousness of the situation. After a few very long hours and some language obstacles overcome with the help of  very friendly hospital staff, everything was getting back to normal and we could finally get together again all of us.

I remember having lunch with my friends, my mind wandering, thinking about everything that had happened and the new meaning of friendship. It’s not about childhood friends or long term relationships. Right now, right here as expats, it’s all about new bonds and new friendships that get strong so quickly that a friend easily becomes part of our ‘new expat family’. In such a way that my husband and I trusted our beloved son with people we’d met only a year ago. And we did it because we truly trust them, and we know they feel the same way.
Even though this was only one situation, my experience as an expat mum in Luxembourg tells me that this is the way things happen. So many people with no family support naturally become receptive to being a part of other expats’ local network of trust. 

Not too long ago, I read something very wise written by my colleague Dan; “Just passing through” could be the perfect bumper sticker for many cars in Luxembourg. But even so, I like to think that those special bonds we expats create will stay alive for many, many years.


By Rute Vendeirinho, May 2014