DEAR HARRIETTE: I am planning to take a trip at the end of the year to visit a friend I met when I was in college. It has been about three years since we have seen each other, because she lives in Asia. But we have kept in touch and agreed that we would get together at this exact time. I have been saving my money and talking to her, and I'm very excited about taking this international trip and visiting her. We were good friends in school, and we have remained friends ever since even though she lives far away. When I tell my friends about my plans, they think I am crazy. They pester me about hanging out with them instead and going to the beach this summer or doing other things that I can't afford if I am going to be able to make this trip. They also talk about me like I'm crazy for spending so much money to go see somebody who is not my girlfriend. I feel perfectly happy about my decision. She and I are friends, and I am excited to have a new experience and strengthen a great friendship. Do you think I am being naive? -- Headed East, Detroit
DEAR HEADED EAST: You sound like you have a level head even as you are looking to expand your horizons. Because your choices are different from your friends', you are experiencing a lot of friction from them. Ignore that. Stick to your plan. Keep saving. Make sure that you stay in close touch with your friend in Asia. Find out about local customs and any expectations there may be of you when you arrive. Ask her how much money you will need in order to be comfortable during your stay. Be honest with her about the resources that you do have. This will help you to be fully prepared. Congratulate yourself on making a decision for your own life even if it goes against the grain of your other friends.