Whether it’s ordering a beer in French, toasting ‘prost’ in German, or proceeding to flatter a Spanish woman in broken Spanish; I can luckily say that my life has been enriched with these experiences all of which with thanks to my time spent with those from other countries.
More recently internationals.
Back in my late teens, house parties were happening two or three times a week, usually in dishevelled houses on council estates.
But for some reason that 17-year-old self felt the urge to partake in drinking a £3 crate of bitter 5 months past it’s shelf date on a gritty council estate.
Winging it in somebody’s house party you hardly knew was social death, only last halloween did I attempt to be a plus one dressed as Jack Sparrow and got a pumpkin the size of a small child thrown at myself and a friend.
Only then did the same friend from Czech dressed as a Rastafarian pirate say ‘man let’s head to the internationals party across the street, it might be good there”, the pumpkin had snapped his polystyrene parrot in two.
Before you could shout guttentag, we were hitting the international parties every month, a society put together by the university for students studying away from home, it was a secret haven for travellers missing the road; without the need for solar powered showers, cheap goon wine and bug spray.
I compare British house parties to these international ‘gatherings’ simply because there are no conformations to ‘fit in’. Greetings with internationals begin with a kiss on either cheek, whereas a British gathering of the same nature I’ve been closely greeted with the broken side of a Stella bottle.
Why are these greetings like this? For one reason and one reason only, these gatherings BREED diversity; one second I’m taught the running man with Saudi Arabian, the next I’m discussing politics in photojournalism with a Polish student.
Alchohol hardly enters the equation, and is often simply complimentary for gatherings; but not relied upon. As there seems to be a strict rule in British drinking culture to fill your skull to the brim with cheap liquor and proceed to salivate all over that bouncer but he’s really nice because he didn’t kick you out of the club last time when you puked up on the bartender.
What I’m trying to portray in this post is that my life has, and will continue to be influenced by brushings with those from other countries, and I believe it’s something that far too few of us don’t do.
I’ve learned to cook South American dishes from old flames, learned Spanish, French, and how to shout profanities in Urdu. Some beneficial, some delightfully pointless; non-the-less they are anecdotes which influence my proffesion, my life and my passion.