Today it is 15 years ago that we first met on a bridge in Seville, Spain. We were both in Seville to take a Spanish language course. That day a school trip to Granada was planned. Anneloes started a conversation because she thought I looked familiar. We discovered she just finished an internship in the city I lived in back then. If you are by yourself in a new country, it’s much easier making contact with new people. After the trip to Granada (on the bus back ‘home’) we immediately started making plans for a trip to Lisbon with another classmate the next weekend. When I went back to the Netherlands at the start of December, I wanted to make plans with Anneloes to exchange pictures and talk about our adventures when she got back. Anneloes did not think I would get back to her on that, but I did. And so we met up for pictures in Groningen a few weeks later and we started making travel plans again. That’s how our friendship was born. Wander Women in a nutshell! And to celebrate our friendschip we travelled to Seville last Monday, to enjoy this beautiful city and be grateful for our friends.
“Facts about friendship in the Netherlands: On average an adult has 3,5 good friends. 42% of your friends live less than 3 kilometers away from you. 15% of the Dutch say they do not have any friends. Friends are alike: On average half of your friends have the same level of education and 75% of your friends have the same sex as you.” – Source: Studium Generale Utrecht, 2014
A: I thought it was quite exciting and a bit scary to go travel on my own for a longer period. My parents were a bit nerve wrecked, but also happy I chose Spain and not some far off unsafe destination. My desire to learn Spanish and to travel on my own was large enough to conquer my initial hesitation and to just go. Looking back I never could have imagined meeting someone there that I would still be friends with now.
J: My parents were just as happy. My first choice was Guatemala. Two days before I left for Spain my friends threw me a surprise going away party. Very sweet. I remember some of us shed a few tears after saying goodbye that night. At that moment I was wondering: “Why do I want to do this?”. But when I was on the plane to Madrid on Sunday afternoon it was okay. In my fourth week I met Anneloes. She was in a different class. I thought it was so cool she lived in Groningen, the city I was going to do my master in the next year. I had a feeling we were going to see each other again…
A: And we did see each other a few weeks later. First to exchange pictures of our stay in Spain and after that going out or having dinner at each other’s place and making plans. If you cook for a vegetarian you do not serve her a juicy steak. So that’s when I took my first steps into the veggie world.
J: While I have a rule never to convince someone to become vegetarian. That’s not my decision. But you do influence each other whether you want it or not. It took just a few days before we had another trip planned. To Milan, on my birthday. I remember looking around for good vegetarian food. Anneloes got that. Milan (Italy) turned out to be foodie heaven for veggies so no problem there. The first real challenge surfaced a year later in Cuba. It was all black beans and rice and except for some fruit and bread nothing else. If you can deal with a moody Janet (because that’s what happens when I’m bored with my food), then you develop a real friendship.
“Once the friendship has been established, intimicy is the one thing that holds it together. Mutual understanding, authenticity, confidence, loyality, caring and helping each other in times of need – those are the most important ingredients for a long and deep friendship.” Source: Psychologie Magazine, May 2014¹
Friendship: Accepting each other
A: And believe me, dealing with a cranky Janet can be a challenge 😉 Oh well, everyone has their moments. I am a slow starter in the morning. I remember a trip to Tuscany about ten years ago where Janet threw open the curtains and turned on the volume of the radio very early in the morning. That is a very bad start for the mood I’m in after just waking up. Janet had to put up with that. If you’re friends, then you accept those things. Right?
J: Haha, I can’t remember doing that, but I can imagine. Funny: it always seemed to take forever before Anneloes F-I-N-A-L-L-Y got out of bed if you ask me. She always snoozed at least 3 times and I totally don’t see the point of snoozing. But now she’s the one who is up early and I am the one in bed. Sometimes till 8.30 am. Really! 😉
A: And these times I am the one thinking: “Go, go, we are on a holiday, seize the day!” But in a relaxed way. Janet used to always make endless lists and wanted to see and do as much as possible. It was rather tiring. Friendship for me also means giving in. Her lists are a lot shorter these days and I try to do a bit more research before we go.
J: Anneloes is sitting beside me and recalling memories that I don’t remember at all. She’s talking about an enormous insect on the inside of the front car window on a trip we took. She asked me to remove the insect and I did that with her shawl and not mine. Hahaha, I get that I did not want to use my own. But what she told you above is true: you have to be mild to each other, especially if you are travelling together. In the end we value the same things and we mostly have the same expectations and interests on a trip. That makes it easier.
“How much you see each other is mostly a sign of closeness at the beginning of a friendship. As soon as you are friends, you can do with less contact. Some good friends have known each other for years and years and can easily go a year without seeing each other without ruining the friendship.” Source: Psychologie Magazine, May 2014¹
Friendship: Differences and similarities
A: The similarities make it easier to do things together. But the differences in our characters are what make our friendship so interesting. And those differences are easily acknowledgable. Others think Janet is modest and a bit shy and me explicit and present. I’m impulsive and sometimes a bit of a talebearer. Janet is more of a thinker and reacts more thoughtful and nuanced. In real life we regularly change roles these days as we have learned from each other. The differences make us learn and they hold a mirror for our own behaviour sometimes.
J: People often think Anneloes is the boss, but in reality I am. Anneloes can go: ‘You choose’ real easily. I won’t say that very often. I do like to choose something that makes everyone happy though. Otherwise I know I won’t have as much fun. Balance again… 😉
In 15 years we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well, especially by travelling together a lot. But people also change, they grow (hopefully!) as the years pass. Sometimes we think we know what the other person means and we are way off. That happens to us when we communicate on Whatsapp often. And we use this a lot to talk about our blog. A lot of people think we meet up a lot: they think we see each other 3 of 4 times a week. But that’s not the case. We travel together often and because of our blog we do things together. We sometimes have dinner at each other’s house or go to the theatre, the frequency changes a lot. Blogging and travel are often reasons for meeting up these days.
Do you recognize yourself and a friend in this? Do you only have friends that are really similar to you or do you also have friends with totally different characters?
Additional reading: ¹ Article Psychologie Magazine: Top 10 Vriendschapsmissers (Dutch only) Article Psychology Today: The importance of friendship Article Time Magazine: How To Make Friends Easily And Strengthen The Friendships You Have