Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

One of the hands-down hardest things about the Foreign Service is the goodbyes. Yeah, you've got those in the military too, but they're not nearly as constant and they never felt as permanent. Chances were good you'd end up in the same town as your military friends at some point, and at worst you were a time zone or two away from them. In the Foreign Service, it's a whole different ball game.

I've bitched about mentioned the small size of the expat community in Yekaterinburg before, but, well, I'm gonna do it again. When we got here, there was an expat playgroup with about seven families in it. One by one, those families have disappeared, leaving us with only one other family (and they're ready to leave at any time). In August, I said goodbye to three of my four expat mom friends: my German friend, Claudia, my Swedish friend, Christina, and my British friend, Chinwe. These ladies (especially Chinwe, who I got lunch with almost weekly) were my sounding boards, my advisors, my sympathetic ears, and most importantly, my friends. They were living in the same place with kids of approximately the same age, and they were as out of place here as I am.

We didn't hang out that much in the grand scheme of things, not the way I hung out with my girlfriends back home. We all travel a lot and Christina worked full-time, Chinwe part-time, and of course I have a job. But just knowing they were here was a comfort. If we were at an embassy (or a larger consulate), we'd also have a constant flow of people leaving, but there would be new families to replace them. In Yekaterinburg, none of  the companies that hire expats or the diplomatic missions seem to be able to attract families with kids. Maybe some will come in the next year, but I'm not hopeful (not a single new family has arrived since we've been here).

I get it. This is what we signed on for when we decided to try out this lifestyle. And nothing is permanent - I'm sure I'll run into my friends some day (although I really wish my foreign friends would get on Facebook!). All I'm saying is, goodbyes are hard, and I've had more than my share in the past few weeks.

I'm far more partial to hello.


  1. Hi Mara, I totally understand what you mean. Saying goodbye is so hard, first because you're going to miss the person and their company but also because there are going somewhere new and shinny! So attractive when you've been in the same place for a year... I'm saying goodbye to a friend who is going back to Europe on Sunday (I'm an French expat in Australia - which I love BTW). And it's sad and making me all homesick and gloomy. Good luck for your goodbyes, and Hello from a new follower :)

    1. Hi Claire! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :D I have a sister in France and another sister who lived in Australia for four years. Where are you exactly? Even though it's awesome I'm sure it's tough being so far from home. At least it's Friday, right?? ;)

    2. Haha yes, sooo glad it's Friday. I'm in Brisbane :) I hope your sister likes France!! Did you other sister like Australia? And yes, Aussie is a great place but some days there's nothing like home. And seriously having your family & friends on the other side of the planet, with sometimes more than 10h difference, is tough. Even under the sun ;) I've been reading through your recent posts and I don't know why they say it takes 6 months to get over homesickness. I've been here for nearly 2 years, and it took me at least 1 year to feel comfortable and build friendships. I'm sure new people will arrive in your city!!

    3. My sister has been living in Paris for 15 years! She's married to a French man and has two kids :) My other sister is my twin. She lived in Gatton so she went to Brisbane quite a bit (she was getting her PhD out there, studying brumbies). What are you doing there?


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