Where is the friendship?

I’ve been living abroad for almost two years and I totally don’t miss my life in Italy. I’m actually quite glad (and proud) I’ve found the strength to run away from my Country and from that kind of persistent unhappiness I used to live in when I was there. I rarely feel homesick, even though my life as an expat isn’t perfect or always easy. There are certain things I left in Italy that I deeply miss: all of them are pretty obvious and – I’m afraid – stereotypical. Some are related to food: I miss the simplicity of my grandma’s tomato sauce, I miss a cup of authentic, dense hot chocolate on a freezing winter day, I miss a good pizza at a reasonable price. Some are related to places: I miss walking through the streets of the village where I grew up, I miss spending hours among the shelves of my town’s public library looking for nothing in particular, I miss seeing the mountains from my bed when I wake up. Some are related to people (or animals): I miss my family and my dog and my old friends, the ones who know me better than I do. Most of the things I miss are actually related to all these three aspects at the same time. I miss having a walk by the lake with a friend on a sunny afternoon, stopping by our favourite gelateria for an ice-cream. I miss the “classic scheme”: panino at the same old place, followed by a few beers (or a cup of tea) at the same old pub, ending up chatting with the amazing Dutch owner about bitterballen and prostitutes, De André and Italian politics, until it’s 2 a.m. and we are all longing for our beds. I miss laughing my head off at the other same old pub, while getting drunk with a couple of Tennent’s Super and sharing a portion of forzutelli (fried balls of pizza dough served with Nutella), impatiently waiting till I can collect with my fingers the Nutella left on the dish. I miss my friends left in Italy. I love them, I really do, even if I’m harsh and I don’t often show them my affections in common ways. However, it’s not only that: I miss the most the kind of friendship I have with them, the kind of friendship I’ll probably never find anywhere else, or at least not here, not in Holland. Here where I still haven’t managed to get through that icy emotional armour of the Dutchies. I’ve tried so hard, but they haven’t let me in, yet. I’ve become an acquaintance, a friend with benefits, a girl they always meet in the same club/bar/pub, but I still haven’t found that friendship, with all the silly chatting, laughing, deep conversations till late night, appreciated good advice, warm hugs. I know that this kind of close friendship needs time to be built. I’m totally aware I can’t expect to have, with people I met a year or a few months ago, the same kind of relationship I have with those I’ve known for a decade. I’m just looking for someone who’d show true interest in me, I want to listen to great stories, I want to be listened to, I wanna share past experiences and then share new moments, I wanna start to build something, step after step, little by little. That, unfortunately, can’t happen if there’s no willingness on both sides. If you always end up in a corner, surrounded by people talking and laughing in a language you don’t understand. I’m not saying it’s all their fault: for sure I haven’t tried hard enough and maybe I should be more open, more into the “Dutch way of socializing”. Nonetheless, it’s a fact that the Dutch are kinda close and don’t easily befriend new people, especially if they are foreigners. Certainly not all Dutchies are like this, but most of them for sure. I think this (real!) conversation I had a few days ago with a young Dutch person sums up quite well the difficulties of befriending a Dutch (male or female, it doesn’t matter): Random Dutch: So I can take a few days off from work, but I don’t know what to do with them. I mean, all my friends are abroad or are working: I’d surely get bored, spending all that time by myself. Me: Well, you can travel a bit. Visit new places. RD: But my friends are working. Me: You can go by yourself. RD: Nah, it’s not nice to travel alone. Me: It can be an opportunity to make new friends while travelling. RD (shocked): Why should I want to make new friends? I already have mine! I’m kinda losing hope.

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