The University of Westminster Education Abroad team invited all the study abroad and exchange students to a boat party on the Thames River last Wednesday evening. Along with two other Americans, I met with the other students near the Tower Hill tube station. Immediately after arriving on the boat, a few friends and I went to the top deck to look at more London sights.
“Hey,” said a friendly voice. It was a tall, brunette girl that I met at a party a few days before.
We chatted away about her travels throughout Europe and talked about our blogs. After several minutes of conversation, I took a glimpse around for my friends. They were gone. Well, this is awkward.
“Hey,” I replied, a little confused about why she was here. Originally, I thought she was a British student. But I soon discovered that she was actually Australian. (I’m awful at distinguishing British and Australian accents.)
She probably realized my uneasiness because she then invited me to grab a pint with her at the bar. We chatted a little more and she recognized two other Australians. One of them told me an incredible recipe for a smoothie, and we laughed about how “pants” are pants, not “underwear” as the Brits would translate it.
It’s so funny, because it seemed like Americans had more in common with Australians from the other side of the world than the English. You won’t hear the Brits talking about smoothies or their “pants”—because that would just be awkward.
We later ran into a Canadian and a group of Spaniards and Italians. I started raving about how much I loved Barcelona to one of the Spaniard girls, but it was difficult to have a conversation because of the language barrier. I decided to stick with the Australians.
As we wandered throughout the boat I thought it was fascinating how groups of people would form. People who would never normally meet would talk to each other since they speak the same language or come from the same region. English-speaking people hung out with other English-speaking people. Americans would hang out with Americans. And Australians would hang out with Australians. And Koreans would hang out with Koreans. And the Spaniards would hang out with the Spaniards and so forth.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I got to meet people that I normally would not get to meet otherwise. Unless I work in the U.N. in the future, I probably will not have an experience like this again.
A few days later I started my first session of class and found my Australian friends sitting behind me. After class I saw the friendly brown-haired girl. “Hey.”