I had some time off from my current job (vacation) recently and on one of the days I went back and visited some of my former co-workers. We had a lovely lunch and I stayed and visited during part of the work day.
I don't know if it's as common to socialize with your co-workers in other cultures as it is here. In a land where people move around a lot, where families are spread over hundreds, even thousands of miles, it is not unreasonable to expect to form a support system among your co-workers.
I certainly don't always make friends that I want to see outside of work at every job. And many people hold the concept that "if I see them at work that is enough". Yet, like it or not, there is socializing. Whether it's company sponsored gatherings (picnics, banquets, fundraisers) or baby showers, wedding showers, and other life celebrations you will find yourself spending time with co-workers away from the job.
This can be both good and bad. You might discover that someone who is barely tolerable at work is really an interesting person with a fascinating life away from that environment. Or that nice person who seems so easygoing has an obnoxious husband and monster children.
But what happens when you change jobs? Sometimes the ties continue, usually they slowly fade away. Once the last string holding you together was an annual exchange of Christmas cards. Now they are probably just one more Facebook 'friend', their postings blending with all the other daily commentary.
I don't know why I enjoyed going back to visit so much. I genuinely like these women, and enjoy their company. There are people that I work with now that I like, yet it is hard to imagine using a day off to go back and visit them if I left. I do hope that we are able to keep in touch beyond the Christmas card/Facebook strands.