So no one told you life was gonna be this way

5 Apr

“The desire for friendship comes quickly. Friendship does not.

~ Aristotle

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that making friends after the age of five can be hard work. Gone are the days where you can approach someone and say, “Hi. Do you like the colour green? Hey! I like the colour green too. Let’s be friends.”

I miss those days. Especially now that I’m trying to make friends in a foreign country and in a second language.

In the letter of support sent by AFS Honduras they mentioned that those on exchange often feel that everyone is friendly but no one is my friend. This is very true.

As the new and foreign kid on the block, everyone is interested in meeting you and having a chat, but taking that next step towards developing a real friendship can be challenging.

It’s sometimes difficult to express your personality when you’re working with a more limited vocabulary than usual. I’m lucky in that my level of Spanish is pretty fluent, but I still find it hard to joke around and banter like I would in English.

One of my host-mother’s friends actually thought I got my words mixed up when I told her I was an extrovert. We now have a running joke that I’m only extroverted in English. In Spanish I’m an introvert.   🙂

In all my travels I’ve found that there are often plenty of ‘we shoulds’ thrown around, but it can be tough to convert these into concrete plans. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “We should go out for coffee,” or, “We should get a drink sometime,” or “We should go to the movies,” I’d be rich.

Then there’s also the problem of accidental self-sabotage.

I messed up my first and (to date) only social invite from work colleagues. On Monday of my second week I was eating lunch at the cafeteria alone, when I was kindly invited to join a table of three Spanish UN volunteers.

In the flurry of introductions and chatter, I didn’t manage to catch any of their names or which UN organisation any of them worked for. I’m terrible with names and I often find myself forgetting appellations faster than you can say, “pleased to meet you.”

Over lunch they starting chatting about a surprise birthday party one of them was going to throw for her boyfriend that evening. I was asked if I’d like to go and if had my own transport or a way of getting to the suburb where the party was going to be held.

I’m not allowed to drive here (AFS rule) but it turned out that one of the other girls had a friend who lived near me, so she said she could arrange for him to give me a lift. She also said that later that afternoon she’d give me the details of a safe taxi I could use to get home after the party too.

By the end of the day I hadn’t been given any further details about the party, but not knowing anyone’s name, or where they worked, I couldn’t figure out how to follow up.

So once the clock ticked over to 4.30pm and I knew my taxi driver would be waiting in the street below, I left.

I didn’t bump into any of them until more than two weeks later and by then it seemed a bit late and a bit awkward to try and explain what had happened. So that’s strike one for the extranjera. I can’t foresee many future invites heading my way after that. Oops.

AFS’ advice for tackling the problem of friendship is to smile more and show interest in other people by asking to join their activities and inviting them to do things with you.

So I guess that will be the next step. A big smile, a deep breath and seven magic words:

“Hi. Do you like the colour green?”

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7 Responses to “So no one told you life was gonna be this way”

  1. Saunved April 6, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    I like the color green! I loved this post of yours and it really seems as if you are having a few tough moments…but it’s all experience in the end and I hope that it pays off for you. I liked the little inside joke about you being an introvert in Spanish and an extrovert in English 😀 … Enjoy a lot and you ARE making friends (here, if not there)…and all the best for the future! 😀

    • Saunved April 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Waiting eagerly for your next post!

      • honduranhiatus April 11, 2013 at 9:47 am #

        I’ve been terribly ill, but back on my feet now and back to my regular ‘non-schedule’ of blog posts. 🙂

      • Saunved April 11, 2013 at 10:27 am #

        I wish you are feeling well now that that no more sickness hinders you! Do keep posting. Your blog is quite entertaining! 😀

    • honduranhiatus April 11, 2013 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The experiences over here, both good and bad, are definitely worth it. And the good definitely outweigh the bad.

  2. jmarshall19 April 11, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Hi, how are you?? Whereabouts are you living in Honduras? I’m part of a group of volunteers from Europe and if you’re living close by we could definitely meet up and be your new friends haha. We mostly live in Tegus, a couple of people in Comayagua… x

    • honduranhiatus April 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      Hey, nice to hear from you. I’m living in Tegus too. Would be great to meet up sometime. I’ll send you an email so we can organise something offline. 🙂

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