To begin, I think holidaying is really best with people that you are really comfortable with. I mean, most things in life are of course haha, but I mention this because it was something I really felt during the trip. I couldn't help comparing the trip to Langkawi earlier this year.
There were a number of similarities between both the trips. Both were about a week long holiday with friends, involved driving around in 2 cars, 3 girls 5 guys, and so on. Theoretically, Norway was supposed to be the more awesome trip. The place was really beautiful, and Langkawi had its rather unpleasant elements.
I think though at the end of the day I probably still enjoyed the Langkawi trip a little more. The difference lies in the little things that have nothing to do with the location itself. Things such as quality of conversation, a genuine love for one another, understanding one another, just being chill and relaxed in general.
For the Norway trip, I guess I never found myself fully comfortable. If I were to describe it, the trip felt a little more like a collection of individuals heading the same way and doing the same things, rather than friends hanging out. I did loosen up a little and showed a little more of myself, but it's not the same. Most of the time as I appreciated the beauty of the country, I felt like I was appreciating it alone in the presence of other people, rather than us appreciating it together.
I suppose that is what is defining about it. Together, yet in solitude.
Anyway, I also observed some minor displeasure towards one another. Nothing serious, just small little things here and there. As I think about it, it's not anyone's fault really, it's just a clash of different personalities. For example, there would be those who would plan and want to do many things, and then there would be those who prefer to not plan too much and just enjoy the trip. I suppose neither is the more right way to travel than the other, but it does mean that the groups would have conflicting ideas of what an ideal trip would look like.
Another potential source of conflict would be the time spent in a location. Some people just want to speed through and move on to the next thing once they are done, while others like to slow down and enjoy. Some walk very quickly, leaving the rest of the group behind. The ones ahead may not voice it out directly, but they think that the ones lagging are being a burden, slowing them down and limiting their ability to fully enjoy the trip by going to more places. The one's behind do not appreciate being left behind, whether it be because the trail was genuinely challenging for them and they could not move as fast, or simply because they want to slow down enjoy the journey and dislike being pressured to move quickly.
I suspect we won't be travelling as a full group anymore. I think that's a good thing though, 8 people was a little too large a group. Perhaps with smaller groups and with more like minded people in the same groups, the trips would be more enjoyable and deeper relationships can be forged.
For me, I found myself quite okay with both types, and I suppose I could fit both ways. I don't mind travelling with these people still, even if it's not the same quality as I would have with closer friends, it's good enough I guess.
I have been thinking a fair bit about friendship this exchange, and this trip made me think about it even more. Someone told me about how in exchange I would encounter accelerated friendship. In my experience, there definitely was an initial acceleration. That momentum quickly dies down however and while I do consider these people my friends and we did become friends very quickly, I wouldn't consider the friendship a particularly deep one. There's no shortcut to deeper friendships I guess.
Also, I guess who you become close friends has very much to do with the values and perspectives towards life which you share. That is something that no matter how you try to accelerate a friendship, the differences will be differences.
It does bother me a little though, about my friendship with the people here with me in Maastricht. For me, I'm the kind of person who is very comfortable with the people I have known for a long time, in my set communities. Outside of these communities, I have generally not really made close friends, whether at work or in school. Coming here for exchange was a little challenge for myself as I left all these behind in Singapore. I was hoping to develop another community here, especially as I really wanted to be salt and light here in Maastricht and a large part of that begins with the friends I make here. It's getting close to 2 months now, and I'm not really sure how this will go further. Things seemed to have plateaued a little.
I have been trying to invest in some relationships but to be honest, I'm not that good at it. Old friends, people I already know, yes. Newer friends whom I hardly know, frankly I find myself not having anything to say many times. We just play bridge and talk superficially. I'm not sure how to grow that, and even if I did I do feel resistance in myself as I don't feel all that comfortable.
I can personally survive without close friends here, that's not an issue. It's just, I don't want to waste my time here. I would be quite disappointed if at the end of the trip I had not managed to sow seeds of the Kingdom of God in the lives of the people here with me.
One notable thing got me thinking this trip about my attitude towards people.
There are individuals within the group who don't contribute. They are always nowhere to be found when others are doing the chores, just arriving to eat and disappearing before dishes need to be washed. Individuals who don't help in planning, who don't drive, who basically don't do anything and just leech of the efforts of the rest of the group.
Sometimes, these sort of people get me feeling uptight. I just want to scold them and ask them to pull their weight. I would maybe even think about calling them out, pinpointing them as a problem source. I would feel that it is unfair that I should do their job for them. I remember thinking about it one of the nights and feeling a little upset about it, thinking about how to tell the individuals to stop being selfish, or at least more aware of what is going on. I wasn't very happy and I knew I wasn't, so I was refraining from saying anything lest I said things I would regret.
In the midst of my brooding, I realised that just as there were individuals who were simply not contributing, there were those who were doing above and beyond their 'fair share', and often without complaint. It occurred to me that I was sitting around with my laser eyes focused on the flaws in certain individuals while completely neglecting those who were quietly contributing. They were certainly contributing more than I was, because while I was feeling indignant and just wanted to do my fair share, they just did what they had to do.
I decided that if they could do it, I should be able to do so too. And that I should be doing less of pinpointing and more of appreciating. It is important, because I know my tendency to behave this way is an age old bad habit of mine that doesn't reflect well on me as a follower of Christ.
So I did. And I guess this incident reminds me to be more watchful and conscious of myself in the future as well. Is fairness to me all that important? Is ensuring those who don't do their part do it so important? How about showing appreciation for those who do indeed do their part and more?
Making a judgement on who are the people who don't do their part isn't wrong. For example, now I know who I would avoid working together as group members with and who I wouldn't really want to travel with anymore. So observing and making a judgement call is fine. The important part is how I react to it, and I need to remember to act with the love of Christ.