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Visiting international online friends at some point -- need advice, please!

 
 
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2020 06:56 am
So here's the story: I met an international couple online a few years ago and we became fast Internet friends. We talk online almost daily through IM, voice, and sometimes even video chat. Over time I have grown very attached to these two and feel such a strong bond of friendship with them. I've always wanted to visit their country, so I decided to finally do it, later this year or the next, and they have very graciously offered to host me. (Once this COVID-19 business settles down, of course). Needless to say, I was thrilled at the prospect of finally meeting and spending time with them in person.

But now some serious trepidation has been seeping in. It all started the other day when I was chatting with one of them and I thanked him for taking me in -- and his reply surprised me, saying, "Don't thank us yet; we've never met in person before...it's different than spending time together online and we might get on each other's nerves. I'm just being realistic."

I couldn't help but get the feeling that on some level he may be a bit guarded about me visiting. So now I'm all worried that I'll go there, somehow make a bad impression, and ruin everything between us. I *desperately* need this trip to go well. I very much want to go beyond online friendship and make true friends for life with these two. I know that first impressions are absolutely everything and I must make the most of this trip. I know that I should be kind, considerate, respectful, gracious, and grateful -- the whole nine yards...but at the same time I don't want to come off as a try-hard.

Any advice?
 
PUNKEY
 
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Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2020 07:20 am
Why think you need to live with them during this visit time?

Ask them to find you a nice hotel or other living space and just get to know them first without the pressure of being a live- in guest.

Ever hear the old saying: Fish and guests smell after three days.
maxdancona
 
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Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2020 07:49 am
@Sidekick101,
This is an amazing experience. I have had a similar adventure, it can lead to an amazing experience and a meaningful friendship. I don't know which country you are going to, I have visited friends in Mexico, Guatemala and Jordan (the latter had the most cultural differences). But here are some hopefully helpful comments.

1. Be a decent human being. Think about what you will most want from a guest when you are in their shoes. Be gracious, appreciative, respectful... I think you got this.

2. Respect cultural difference. In Latin American countries people are willing to joke around in ways that would offend many Americans. In Jordan, single men are separated from women and families (I pretended to be temporarily married to one of my friends relatives so I could get around this). Appreciate the differences but realize that this is their country and their ideas about what is appropriate are the only ones that matter.

3. Set your own boundaries clearly and respectfully. If there is something that you are not comfortable doing, simply say so respectfully. Again, put yourself in their shoes... if your international visitor said they respectfully that they weren't comfortable doing something you would respect it. What is important is that you aren't judgemental; but you can say as a personal matter that you don't want to do something.

4. On the other hand, be very open minded. I have eaten crickets. I have been naked in a traditional steam room. I have paid for a dance in a smoky traditional dance hall (just a dance). I have learned to kiss people on the cheek in a social setting. I find that these experiences are some of the best in life.

5. See this as an incredible adventure. You will get the chance to view the world from outside of your own culture, and you will see your own culture better. We all take our own normal life for granted, until we understand that other people see things differently and are just as decent and happy.

6. I want to comment on your statement " I *desperately* need this trip to go well.. I think this is a bad way to look at it. There are no guarantees in life and there is a possibility that this trip will not go well.

I hope that you can get over this attitude and the fear that goes around it. It you are desperately trying to make things go perfectly, you will spend all of your time nervous and you may miss out on the best parts of the experience.

The worst thing that can happen is that you won't get along. In that case you will make the best of it. You can always get a hotel (I can't imagine it going that badly). And there are more people and more adventures to be had.

I fully expect that you will have an amazingly good time. But relax... be respectful, be decent, be open minded. You are putting yourself in a great position to have an adventure ... embrace it!

I wish you the best of experiences.

Sidekick101
 
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2020 03:20 pm
@PUNKEY,
Thank you very much for your advice! I *had* asked if they wanted me to stay at a hotel or something, but they insisted on their place. But yeah, that's one of my main concerns -- that I'd end up staying too long and wearing out my welcome. I will definitely be meditating on your suggestions. Thanks again! I really, REALLY appreciate it!
Sidekick101
 
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2020 03:24 pm
@maxdancona,
THANK YOU so very much for your absolutely beautiful and insightful response! I will take everything you said to heart and be contemplating your advice. You're so awesome! Thanks again! I VERY much appreciate it!
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2020 03:43 pm
@Sidekick101,
Sidekick101 wrote:

Thank you very much for your advice! I *had* asked if they wanted me to stay at a hotel or something, but they insisted on their place. But yeah, that's one of my main concerns -- that I'd end up staying too long and wearing out my welcome. I will definitely be meditating on your suggestions. Thanks again! I really, REALLY appreciate it!


Did they really insist, or were they just being polite?

You could compromise and stay at a hotel the first few nights, and then stay with them a few nights.

There have been times when I've visited my best friend, and have done just that.
Albeit it was going back to the state where I grew up, and was familiar with the area.
I simply said at first I'd like to have a few days on my own. There was no problem with that.

You might want to reverse it and say that since you're not familiar with the area, staying with them for the first couple of days would be good, but then you'd like to take the chance to see them, but at the same time be on your own a little.

You're all adults. Adults understand the need for me time.

Even if you stay with them the entire time, keep your room as your sanctuary, and don't be shy about saying that you're going to take a nap, read a book, or just relax in your room for awhile.
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