Chapter 5: “On how we all met and became friends for life”
I’m a quite shy person. Many people don’t know this, but I have to overcome a series of personal obstacles whenever I want to approach someone and say “Hello!” -and when you are in an English-speaking country for the first time in your life and you´re not a native speaker, this is even harder! However, I must have turned into a completely different person on arrival at Exeter, for it was so easy for me to start talking to the others. Everybody seemed so friendly and happy to be there! Anyway, getting used to the variety of accents was particularly difficult for me: there were 60 teachers attending the seminar, and we were from 20 different countries. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? I had never lived such a cosmopolitan experience in my whole life!
And of course, there was the cultural factor… Should I shake hands or should I bow? Do people kiss in such-and -such a country? Do they kiss once or twice? I was really anxious because I wanted to give a good first impression! My piece of advice is: when you find yourself in the same situation, whether at Exeter College or anywhere else in the world, there’s something everybody understands: a sincere smile! Just relax, smile and say “Hello!” nicely. The rest will be a piece of cake!
The second teacher I talked to was this nice smiling girl from Poland, Roksana. It was before 4 pm, the time all the participants were supposed to arrive and register, and I was hanging about at the incredible front quad at Exeter College, eager for the adventure to start. We smiled, said “hello!” and five minutes later we were like birds of a feather…
|My friend Roksana from Poland and I|
At 5.30 pm we all gathered at the Fellows’ Garden for a welcome drink. It was a warm summer afternoon, the sun was shining and the birds were singing as we mingled enthusiastically. All those new faces and unheard - of names… It was a wonderful idea to be wearing our name badges from the very beginning . It was a magical moment.
Two weeks later it was unbelievably hard to say goodbye… And it was then when I knew in my heart that a part of me would always stay in Oxford...