My first official day as a student at Bath Spa University was an evening reception before classes started. I was absolutely terrified: Would people like me? Would I like them? Would the other students beat me up and steal my lunch money? Actually, it was a wonderful evening. I met my tutors, my fellow classmates, chatted about books and writing, and even made friends. I was shocked (and blogged about it all here).
Late in the evening, I was introduced to another student, and heard a familiar accent. She was Canadian, and so pleased to meet "another North American." We stuck together from then on and became good friends.
Actually, I think we sometimes drove our British classmates nuts. She would come up to me at the beginning of class and say, "You won't believe what happened in this restaurant last night," and I would tell her about a crazy incident on the bus. We were catty gossips. But it feels so good to talk to someone who understands all the weirdness of being a foreigner living in the UK.
I've never sought out foreigners while living here. I don't go to any secret American clubs (though I do regularly attend the Bristol Badgers baseball games in the summer!). Regardless, many of my closest friends in this country are foreigners. Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, Canadian, etc. Our accents stick out like a sore thumb, friends introduce us, somehow we always find each other.
I was reminded of this with my recent post on Explaining cultural differences. I was pleased so many of you joined in the conversation, British, Irish, American. And many of my online expat friends. Elisabeth (FictionForge) has lived various places in Europe, Mary Witzl, has lived all over, and blogs her fascinating stories about life abroad. I met author Heidi Ayarbe (an American living in Columbia) over Twitter. Author Keren David (a Brit who has lived in the Netherlands) blogs occasionally about her expat experiences. I didn't deliberately search you out, but I've been so happy to find you and share my experiences with you.
That's part of the reason I've given up with these doom and gloom articles about how Twitter or blogs or Facebook are destroying the fabric of our society. I've made so many friends online, fellow writers, fellow expats, fellow readers, and I'm so grateful to you all for "getting it."