According to the highly scientific and well-regarded method of research that is Googling it, there are roughly fifty million expats currently expat-ting it global style. It’s less than 1% of the world’s population, but it’s still a pretty big number. Big enough that you don’t expect to run into someone you knew in one country while you’re strolling down a strange strasse or ruminating over a rue with a different view.
Yet it happens. Industries have hubs, companies move employees from one global position to another, like pawns on an atlas of longitude. But what happens even more than a Copenhagen connection meeting up for hamburgers in Houston is something akin to six degrees of separation, or as I shall henceforth call it, Six Degrees of Expat Bacon.
Just like a footloose game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, once you start graphing out connections between cities and friends and companies, it usually doesn’t take long to track your way back to a common denominator.
A German friend I met in Cyprus emails me about an American who is moving to Copenhagen. I later randomly meet her at a school function where we eventually figure out we were meant to be introduced via e-mail yet never were. A Danish acquaintance needs some information about schools for a friend moving to Cyprus. I have a British friend in Cyprus who moved to Dubai, maybe she can help out your friend in London who once lived in Lucerne who is now on her way to the UAE. A fellow expat blogger gets in touch–even though we haven’t lived in any of the same places, we have both lived in places that others we currently know have lived. I’m pretty confident it’s only a matter of time before we find a friend we have in common, someone we’ve both met along the way.
It’s like a giant, global game of connect the dots.
The other day I scrolled down my Facebook feed to find a photo of a good friend from Cyprus, tagged by someone I’d met here in Copenhagen. They’re both currently in New Delhi. They don’t work for the for the same company, they just happen to be there at the same time and their paths have crissed and crossed.
It’s a big number, fifty million. But it turns out even with numbers so big it’s a small world after all.
I didn’t start writing Wine and Cheese (Doodles) until I got to CPH, but since I have been writing I’ve had friends who’ve moved get in touch to let me know about new friends who are readers. I’ve had emails from expats around the globe saying hello or letting me know they’ve related to something I’ve written. For someone who sits in a room by herself to write most days, to have someone across the world reach out and touch base? That’s like a writer’s wet dream. And pretty damn cool.
So it’s my turn now. I’m reaching out to you inviting you all to play six degrees of expat bacon with me. You see, I’m looking for new Sunday dinner friends.
But not for me.
By the time you read this, our Sunday dinner friends will be on their way out of Copenhagen. Here in Lego-land we’ll be busy prepping for the holidays, getting ready to ring in the new year with the friends that are still here. But our Sunday dinner friends will have touched down in Dubai. They’ll be gearing up to learn the ropes in a new place, unpacking boxes, getting lost on roads that aren’t familiar yet, listening to the GPS pronounce Arabic street names in a funny English-speaking way.
Once they’re settled, once the dishes are unpacked and the wine glasses stored, they’re going to need new Sunday dinner friends.
Ok, I’m not actively seeking people to stalk them and show up on their doorstep. They’ll meet those people sooner rather than later (the friends, not the stalkers). But wouldn’t it be nice if I scrolled down on my Facebook feed one day and saw them clinking glasses with new friends–maybe even with someone we have in common somehow–someone I’ve come across on this Disney ride of expat life, in this small world. Someone I’ve known or who has known me or even just someone who’s knows me or you through the blog.
Wouldn’t it be great if people left ideas or tips or recommendations for them, all those little things that take you a year or more to figure out? You know, where the peanut butter is in the supermarket and the best time to buy stuff and how to find a babysitter, where to get your hair cut and which roads to avoid and how not to put your foot in your mouth every time you interact with a local. Wouldn’t that be nice?
And….wouldn’t it be even nicer if we could all do that for each other, make the world a little smaller, by paying a little expat advice forward, by reaching out to say hello to someone new to the area? Doing something to make finding friends to have Sunday dinners with just a little bit easier.
So if you’re in Dubai or have lived there, leave a hello or a tip or a smile for my friends who will be busy getting themselves established. Forward it along to someone you know who may have those connections.
And if you have a friend who is moving? Ask the same of someone else here. Forward it along, leave a comment here or on the Facebook page, send it to someone on the other side of the globe who can read and offer up a little bit of wisdom or just a “Hey, welcome!”
Let’s play six degrees of expat bacon together.
Sing it with me folks…Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all….