Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Meeting people. Cool and interesting people in particular.

I think that meeting people from different countries is one of the most important things in life. It means you get to learn new cultures, compare cultures, compare languages, possibly even practise a language or listen to your language being spoken by someone as a second language. Yeah, language is kind of a big thing here. And it can unfortunately sometimes be a barrier between you and the other person. But let's say for this blog post that the new person you hypothetically meet shares a language with you.

What I love about meeting a new person is the story that I have yet to discover from them. They have these experiences and lives to share with you that may be so foreign to your own that hearing them opens up so many opportunities for great conversations. It's not like with your close friends-whilst still equally as interesting- where the conversations are easier to have given the intensity of the relationship, it becomes more of a challenge, the good kind. At first you have to establish the basics: 'where do you come from?' 'where is that near?' and then you start to get into the really interesting stuff: 'what's it like?' 'what job do you have/what do you study?' 'why?'. And then you find yourself involved in this discussion about all kinds of different things that are teaching you about a country you've possibly never been to before from an actual native and not just an article in a travel magazine or a lesson in a geography class. Okay it's not quite the same as actually being there but at least your hearing it from someone who lives there and experiences it everyday, not just a text book.

It's fascinating how much you learn from talking with someone who you may not usually converse with. In some ways you learn a lot about your own country from comparing it with that of a completely different culture. You may even spark healthy debates about things like politics or healthcare or maybe just the people themselves. Sometimes you find yourself or the other person feeling jealous of certain aspects of their or your country. Something like a certain type of government when the other's may be very strict and militaristic or in a time of crisis. It's kind of like watching the news except it's far closer to the truth and far more exciting than dumbfoundingly uninteresting pieces of overhyped lies like "if you use Facebook then you are sure to be raped and killed by a strange man!'. No, these types of conversation involve at least some level of intellectual discussion about interesting topics. So actually I lied, it's nothing like the news.

I really believe that you can gain so much from conversing, meeting and making friends with people outside of you own country. It's beneficial to you and to them because you learn a hell of a lot and probably gain some pretty cool experiences from it. Whether in the world of the Internet or in that weird place with fresh air and stuff we call reality get out there and off your backside to meet some cool and interesting people from all over the world. You'll thank yourself in the long term.