People

This might just be the most boring but straightforward title I’ve ever used. But the thing is, if I give this ‘you know what I mean look’ and then say ‘people’, you should normally nod with a very serious expression, and say ‘yep, ooh yes’.

People are the weirdest creatures out there. It’s not that I didn’t know in advance, but the past two days only made me more sure about it. We had introduction days here, which basically served to meet other foreign students. You would think they are cool and open-minded and very happy if they can talk to you. I was ready to make a bunch of friends and to talk to everyone.

Enter real life, and you get an entirely different image. I was quite convinced that everything was okay, because mostly, wherever I go, I seem to leave a good impression. I have made friends for life on many occasions. So I trusted that it wouldn’t be all too difficult now either. But then my friend and I entered the classroom where we had a presentation, and that was kind of not what we expected. Everyone seemed to group up within seconds. The Spanish people, the French people. After that we had lunch, and the Spanish people who sat across from us didn’t say a word to us.

When we returned home during the break, I felt like it was terrible. I really thought everyone would want to meet the other students, but they didn’t. And the best part was this: I had tried to talk to the French trio, but it didn’t last. At a certain point we were waiting, and one of the girls, who sat close to me, said ‘Belgium’. And then something about pretty girls. But it didn’t sound like she fully meant to say we were pretty. I just sat there wondering how French people can’t realize that Belgian people understand French… And seriously, if you can talk about us, then talk to us as well. But no.

It was strange. Very, very strange. We had tried to talk with many people, we did our best, but the response was meager.

In the afternoon there was an organised trip though, and then things changed. We figured out who the good guys were, as in, the ones who wanted to talk to us, and we managed to get them together and talk with them. Then some other people, who have been in Poland for the first semester already, joined the activity as well. There was this thing that we call ‘table football’  (do you know it?), and though I thought I sucked at it, I actually wasn’t bad at all. Give me such games, and I am happy. Even when I’m not good at it, I just like to play.

It ended up being a good night with nice people after all.

Then today we did a tour around the city, and it seemed to give more opportunities to talk with other people. So I made up the theory that a group of people who don’t know each other should have movement. As long as you can move around, you have the opportunity to talk with new people and also to end the conversation if you no longer know what to say. If you sit around a table, you just sit and you are stuck with the same people. For such a group as ours, that’s not very good.

Needless to say, the French people left the tour after a while. I don’t think we’ll ever see them again.

You know, my friend and I are both from Belgium, and of course you kind of stick together, but during the evening we spent a lot of time apart. We are not impossible to separate. We ended up having a good night with new people. Maybe not friends for life, maybe not friends for months even, but at least we didn’t lock ourselves in our own little Dutch speaking world.

Maybe the language was a barrier. As a Belgian person, who studies Polish, I can understand and speak English, French and Polish, so we managed. But the fact that so many people don’t speak English fluently makes it hard to communicate. It’s a sad thing, and not something I expected, but it can really become a problem when you want to have a conversation.

So yeah, people. Strange creatures, but interesting for sure.

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15 Comments

  1. Amazed the French were so rude. I think naturally we tend to stick with people of our own language and culture because it makes us feel more comfortable. But I remember taking a bus tour a few years ago of New York City. Other than the people leading the tour, my children and I were the only Americans on the tour. And there were many nationalities on the bus. There were Germans, Russians, Indians and a Lebanese family. Once we got over the nervousness of being the only Americans on the tour, we really had a good time getting to know the Lebanese family and the family from India.

    Reply
    • Of course, communication in your own language and with your ‘own’ people is way easier. But why go studying abroad if you are not willing to speak anything else than your own language? It really surprised me.
      And as you prove here, when you are open to other people, you can really have a great time! 🙂

      Reply
  2. That would be super awkward. I’m glad you found some people who were willing to talk though. 😀

    Reply
  3. French people are arrogant racists and Spain is a borderline third world country

    Any cultured Belgians coming into contact with either of those two groups is bound to find it a frustrating experience.

    Reply
    • Hahaha, maybe…! Though I met some lovely Spanish people as well. It’s probably just a case of a few snobbish people who don’t like other people. Too bad for them, because we are a lot of fun.

      Reply
  4. What a crying shame … I’m guessing it was awkwardness rather than arrogance that illicited such rudery – if I am wrong then just ignore and imagine them falling flat on their faces in front of a crowd of extremely important people thus ruining their own chances of any success in life. Works for me every time!

    Reply
    • Hahaha, what a brilliant idea! Maybe it was, but on the other hand, I really tried talking to them. I made the most awkward step, the first step. They didn’t try at all.

      But hey, the other people were cooler, so we got that going for us 😉

      Reply
  5. Look at it like this: most people as a single entity can be very insecure. Especially in new situation, new places, new people and even more so when there are language barriers. It gives a certain security to ‘gang up’ with your own people.
    Be proud of the fact that you are so secure in yourself and have the language skills to easily connect with new people, and just bring a little patience and tolerance then you’ll see that even the though ones will open up.
    Just a little feedback from someone who used to be a ‘tough one’ in her teens and twens, and who will forever be grateful for all the persistent people who would not give up on her. 😉

    Reply
    • You are probably very right. I was also happy to have two Belgian people close to me! But by now I think we managed to find the ones willing to talk, and all will be well now. I’m afraid that some of them really don’t want to talk to others, but not my problem, I just won’t see them anymore, and that’s fine with me 🙂 And those who still want to try, well, they are very welcome still! 😉

      Reply
  6. Meh, the French. Just kidding 😉 New people and new situations are always tough– I’m glad you found a way to make the situation more relaxing and “fluid.” Here’s to many more successful games of table football– which we call something like “fooseball” in America. No clue how to spell that. Or why. Like you said, people are strange 😀

    Reply
  7. Doll, don’t take it seriously, some people are just rude like that 🙂
    Or… they are just socially awkward! 😀

    Reply
  1. People (part 2) | No Blog Intended

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