Expat Visitation Plights
Question: I’m an American living abroad, and while I really love seeing my friends on my occasional visits to the States, sometimes it can get to be a bit too much, especially in New York, where about half of the people I know seem to live. How do I handle a visit to the city without it turning into a total social stress-fest, and ideally also without hurting anyone’s feelings?
Answer: I've also lived abroad and know how daunting home visits can feel. You're jet-lagged, inundated with family time and have to get X, Y and Z done before returning, all while going through a mild form of culture shock. Like, why do so many American restaurants have TVs in them?
Having firmly replanted stateside—and in New York!—I've been on both sides of the equation. I can confidently say that you needn't feel bad. Big-city dwellers are used to people coming and going, to (friend)ships passing in the night. Your social circle is probably too busy to notice you're even in town, let alone be upset if they don't get to see you.
The truth is that we make time for the people we really want to see. These are the people we reach out to beforehand to set up dinners, drinks or coffee dates with. Everyone else is just a wonderful plus. And it's OK.
To banish any residual feelings of guilt, set up court at a crowd-friendly bar for a few hours one night. Pick a place that's centrally located and invite everyone you'd like to see but can't carve out alone time with. You'll get to maximize your face time and feel wildly popular while doing so.