What's up everybody, back again with another late blog post.
Just finished another paper for one of my classes again and had a celebratory coffee and pastry, quite the killer combo. But I want to talk about some new friends I made here at the university.
Nathan and I were sitting on the steps of a building on campus, talking about how we want to make friends with students at my university, the London School of Economics. The way our program is structured makes it difficult to meet students from the university because not only do we live in a building with a bunch of other students studying abroad from America, but we also take classes with only students from our program. This ensures that the only way to meet new students is by striking up conversations at some of the public events on campus or in any other place that students hang around like the library or the student union. Thus, we are forced to find ways to make friends that go beyond the usual ways of doing so at university(through classes, organizations, dorms, etc.).
Anyways, back to Nathan and I on the steps. We were eating pastries and casually chatting when two girls walked by us and sat down close to where we were. As they were walking by I thought I had heard them speaking in American accents. Naturally, I thought I might be able to use that as a reason to randomly start a conversation with them, so out of pure impulse, I spun around and asked "are you two from the states?". To my surprise, they said that they weren't. Awkward. Trying to save face, I explained how I thought I had heard American accents, attempting to justify my question. Luckily, they were really nice about it. One of them, Nathalie, was from Greece, but she said that she had gone to an American international school in Holland, explaining why I might have heard something similar to an American accent. The other girl, Clara, explained that her dad was British and she is from Singapore. I was intrigued by their backgrounds and started asking more questions about how they ended up at LSE, and we ended up having a nice conversation.
The best part though is I asked them something I am always curious about, which is their opinions on Americans. Nathalie answered first, saying that she didn't really have an opinion and didn't want to apply one characteristic to an entire country of people. I thought she was just being nice and not trying to hurt my feelings, but I wasn't about to call her out on that. She then asked what I had thought she was going to say, and I responded by saying that I thought she would label Americans as excessively loud. And at that point Clara burst out laughing and said that that's exactly what she was going to say. It was hilarious because she was very blunt about it, but I agreed with her entirely. Us Americans can be quite obnoxious. I loved the honesty.
Long story short, we made friends! We ended up hanging out with them later that week at Borough Market and chatting with them about all sorts of things, but especially about American culture. It fascinates me so much to hear non-American opinions on our country's cultural traditions, so talking with them was definitely interesting. It was also cool to have "locals" show us around the city and bring us to all the best spots. Clara showed me how to raid all the samples at the Borough Market and which vendors had the best food options. There is a specific bakery that we got about 4 or 5 samples from by constantly walking by it and grabbing samples over and over again.
Overall I feel like making friends has been one of my favorite accomplishments yet here. Sure, the educational experience at LSE is amazing and living in a different country is something to be proud of, but I feel so fortunate that Nathan and I were sitting on the steps that day when Clara and Nathalie walked by because making new friends here was high on my list of goals.