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.