Saturday, January 23, 2010

"But I have no friends."

When I moved from Massachusetts to York to do my MA, I experienced a huge culture shock: it's hard to make friends in the UK.  I got super homesick one day and called my mom, sobbing.  "What's the matter?" she asked over Skype.  "I'm so LONELY!" I cried.  "Well why don't you go out with your friends?" she asked, puzzled.  "But I HAVE NO FRIENDS!" I wailed.   I mean, it's difficult to make friends wherever you go and especially when you move to a new place but it's especially hard in England.  Don't get me wrong - the English are some of the most generous, kind, friendly and lovely people I have ever met.  Over the years, they have welcomed me into their homes, helped me when I most needed it, and generally welcomed me into their country with open arms.

But it definitely takes time.  I discovered this the hard way at York and shortly after I first moved to London. I remember my first day of the MA course - there were about 7 or 8 of us meeting for the first time at the first class.  Afterwards, knowing that there was a graduate students' reception that night in the English Department, I thought it would be great if we met up and went together.  "Hey guys," I said brightly to my new friends.  "How about if we meet up for drinks before and go to the graduate party together?"  I was met with silence.  Not only silence, but sideways glances at each other, as if I had lost my mind.  "Um ..." one finally ventured.  "Um ... I've got something else on at that time ... but I'll see you there."  "Yeah," another quickly said. "I'm meeting up with some friends before but uhmm ..." he trailed off.  And then they dispersed, just like that.  Slightly disappointed but not completely undeterred, I signed up to be the President of the Graduate Student's Committee at my college.  I thought it'd be a great way to meet new people and with my outgoing personality, it was a no-fail solution.  WRONG.  You could have heard the tumbleweeds blowing at our first meeting.  My American enthusiasm was met with blank stares, skeptism, and ungratefulness.

In the US, you can make friends for life within minutes.  Seriously, I'm sure all of the Americans reading this blog know what I'm talking about: you're waiting at the dentist's for your appointment.  You start chatting to the person next to you.  You find out you have a few things in common, it's so excitingyoujustcan'tbearitoh! And the next thing you know, you have their number and you're meeting up for lunch tomorrow.  Ok, maybe that's just me but I'm sure it happens.

It took me three months - THREE MONTHS - to get to know and make my first real friend at York.  The people on my course all ended up being really close and great friends.  We had murder mystery parties, get togethers, movie nights, etc. but I couldn't get over how long it took for us to get to that point.   I guess it's an American thing.  We really are over-eager or, as my British friends say, "very keen."  It's not always such a bad thing.


  1. But you say nothing about the quality, depth or durability between flash-fast friendship and the more plodding Brits. Coleridge taught us that "who boasts to have won a multitude of friends has ne'er had one". The (American)Samuel Butler warns that "friendship is like money, easier made than kept".


© angloyankophile

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig