The Atlantic

When Your Friend Moves to the Other Side of the World

“It did come as a shock when she told me that she was leaving. It was like, Well, we’ve only barely begun.”
Source: Wenjia Tang

Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.

This week she talks with two women who met in junior college in India, and who knew each other for only 10 months before one of them moved to Canada. They say they were just "study buddies" when they parted ways—their friendship grew through emails, online chats, and Skype sessions across the miles. They discuss what it takes to keep in touch with a friend on the other side of the world, their joyful reunion on a Canadian vacation, and the worst fight they ever had—over a Harry Potter spoiler. (Spoiler ahead, dear reader.)

The Friends

Kshitija Desai, 34, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Mumbai, India
Reema Jayakar, 34, a postdoctoral fellow in clinical neuropsychology who lives in Hanover, New Hampshire

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Julie Beck: How and when did you two meet?

Kshitija Desai: We met in junior-college French class during our very first session. She came to ask if she could sit with me.

Reema Jayakar: This was grade 11 in Mumbai. It was the year 2000. In India, you finish high school in grade 10, and then for grades 11 and 12 you go to junior college. So you've left all your high-school friends and you don't know anyone at this new place.

We were

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