The Benefits of Having Foreign Friends
In my years of living abroad, I've mingled with different races and cultures, and have made lasting friendships with quite a number of them. Foreign friends are very different from Filipino friends in a number of ways, and while my Pinoy buddies are true gems in every way, foreign pals carry their own charms.
Before I start the post, you might think I'm portraying Filipino friends as inferior to foreign ones, but that is not true at all. All friends are equal no matter the race or culture. Also, most points in this post could also apply to some of your own Pinoy friends. These are just general points I wanted to make, so chill and enjoy the article.
1. Different Perspectives
It's expected that different cultures bring about different perspectives in life, like what beauty is for them, what marriage is and should be, what the 'legal' age for doing adult things is, and when "crazy" is considered merely weird or borderline insane.
Growing up with foreign friends liberated my mind at such a young age (hello, going to a disco at 8 years old), and gave me reason to think more about my attitude towards life. Not everyone is privileged and those that are should know better than to spout careless things out of their mouths. It made me sensitive to what other people might feel and molded me to become a people-person - a trait that has proven to be double-edged in terms of benefits.
As most foreign families aren't uptight with how they raise their kids, I got a glimpse of what my own childhood would've been like if I wasn't born Asian. Thus, they learn to mature faster and have a sense of independence.
2. Nothing's Taboo
Let your tongue bathe in words you wouldn't even dare utter in front of your Filipino parents. While not all Filipino families are sensitive to topics like sex and drugs, more than 80% are, and it can be really frustrating as a kid when you want to know about something and no one around you can tell you anything.
This type of parenting has produced young people too afraid (or too "good") to talk about these topics*. With foreign pals, nothing is off limits. My friends and I talk about "taboo" things, and they're all nonchalant about it (even the guys!). It's everyday conversation for us.
*I'm speaking generally, though I do have Filipino friends who don't make a huge deal out of what most consider to be sensitive topics.
3. Different Experiences
I think most Filipino kids would agree that their parents raised them quite strictly, with an emphasis on excelling in academics and having a successful career before 30 (25 for achievers). Pinoy kids would have had more or less similar experiences in different situations, but foreign friends would probably have a bit more flavor to share.
I love stories that give me a wider perspective in life, and I've been really blessed to be in a circle of multicultural friends with varying backgrounds and attitudes. I've even gotten out of a pickle using an experience a friend from Australia shared with me once. Learn from another person's experience!
4. Learn New Languages
This is most definitely one of the best things to come out of foreign friendships! Language is a huge part of establishing relationships and the more languages you learn, the better.
As of today, I can speak Tagalog, conversational French, switch from American to British/Australian accents in a snap, and converse in beginner Deutsch and Spanish. I have a Ukrainian friend I have yet to ask lessons from and I'm stoked to get started.
5. Keep Harmonious Relationships
As we're all from different beliefs and cultures, knowing how to get along with everyone well is important. There's all kinds of humor that may be funny to one and not another. There might be a belief you feel strongly about that goes against one of your friends' culture and upbringing. I could keep going, but you get the point.
In a circle of foreign friends, I was molded to adapt to the general aura or feel of the group. I became flexible enough to make others feel comfortable while still being true to myself and keeping my own person collected. When arguments arise, I learned to keep my cool at a young age and see the situation objectively (it was either get into a fight with people you'll see everyday or be logical and find another solution).
Admittedly, this was a struggle for me growing up, as I had always been really shy and didn't want to go out of my comfort zone. As I continued to mingle with them however, I gradually opened up and embraced the confidence I didn't realize I had.
How about you? What is one thing you truly love about having foreign friends in your circle? What other points would you have included in this post? Let me know in the comments!