Do you ever meet someone and immediately feel like you know each other?
There is a relationship “shortcut” that exists between people who share the same ideals or interests. You don’t have to explain yourself to people who share your passions, so you can immediately start developing a friendship with them. You bypass the first-impression labels like crazy/boring/conservative/liberal and get below the surface pretty quickly.
They just “get” you, and you them.
We find this to be true with other long-term travelers, no matter what part of the world they come from or what age. No one is surprised that we sold everything to travel, and most people just want to compare stories of where we’ve been, what we’ve discovered, and maybe plan to see something together the next day. It is the fastest path to friendship I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Since we’ve been on the M/S Expedition, we’ve noticed the same is true of the crew and staff that works here. They come from the Philippines, Brazil, Poland, the Ukraine, India, and Russia, and the majority will work both the Arctic and Antarctic tour seasons. Most people on this ship are away from home for 10 months of the year. In fact, you could easily argue that the M/S Expedition is their real home, considering how much time they spend here.
As we’ve observed their activities, we’ve come to realize that they have their own friendship “shortcut” with each other as well. They don’t wonder what would make someone leave home for a life on a polar ship because they already know. Some get “landsick” if they stay in one place too long or venture too far from the ocean. Others are here to make the kind of money for their future they can’t make back at home.
Because they already understand this about each other, they can move right into a deeper stage of knowing each other, and it is obvious even from a distance that they consider each other family.
You can hardly walk down a hall or pass a room without hearing someone singing a song, and the affectionate way they joke with each other has all the hallmarks of a large family gathering.
They even pool a percentage of their tips to buy bicycles, musical instruments, and other items to share in their leisure time on board and at port. Can you imagine bonding this way with your coworkers? It is about as far from Office Space as you can imagine.
Back home, these people probably experience a lot of the same things we do: wonder at how they can do it, a little wariness of them for being so outside the “norm,” and even some jealousy or negativity toward their life choices.
But on board? Everyone is just like they are, and they can get on with the business of living. They sing karaoke with each other after shift, ride bikes and shop with each other while in port, and see parts of the world together that their friends and family back home may never get to see.
There is something to be said for hanging out with the kind of people who share your goals and dreams, not only for the motivation it provides, but also for the comfort it gives in just being “one of the guys.” It removes that first hurdle that we sometimes have to jump to get to know people.
Do you surround yourself with the kind of people who “get” you, or do you find yourself jumping that first hurdle a lot?