Some time ago, in highschool, I had this desire of exchanging thoughts with a person from outside my country. At that point, I had been studying English for over nine years and scarcely speaking it. You know, when the teacher does most of the talking, and you say yes and you say no, and you solve some grammar exercises, then get 20 seconds of glory when the undivided attention of the teacher is yours and the teacher wants you to open your mouth to sing short sweet sentences that end abruptly, when it’s your desk mate’s turn, or 15 minutes of hell when there’s a presentation to be delivered and you compact 15 minutes in 3, without much breathing involved, just cause you’re crazy nervous. That kind of thing. Sometimes, even now I find myself wondering whether there’s gonna come a time in which I shall finally be able to use English without thinking everything I say through, although my English is fluent anyways and I shouldn’t be worried about it, cause even native speakers make mistakes sometimes. I even watch youtubers posting videos of themselves…I even considered making a channel for myself, but let’s be serious…who would want to hear me and my possibly ridiculous accent (which I am not aware of cause I speak better than most of my colleagues) ? Right.
So I was trying to compensate for the lack of communication in foreign languages I have here, where even this notion of knowing English is exotic
for some individuals at least. I once read the article of a foreigner coming to Romania to learn Romanian with Romanian speakers, but running into a bunch of youngsters who couldn’t wait to find someone to speak English with. He even said there’s something that foreigners give out that draws English speakers to them like flies to the honey pot and it is true, we English speakers cannot wait to enjoy conversation with you, native speaker, or fluent speaker at least, cause mostly, we have so much Romanian going on that talking to you is like a breath of fresh air.
At my University, there are foreigners coming to learn Romanian in order to get into college here. Don’t kid yourself, apart from International fancy business something and probably some Engineering stuff, you won’t get English taught programs here, so you must take your A1 Romanian books and start learning this marvelous language. As you walk along the corridors, if you look carefully, you can easily distinguish foreigners from the rest of the University population. The Arabs, the Tunisians and other representatives from the countries of North Africa, the Albanians, which are like flocks and make a lot of noise in dorms. We even had once in our dorm a girl from Mexico and last year I chanced to lay eyes on actual Koreans…like…from Korea, which was rare enough. Some of the people I knew on my floor would go to them like “hi, how are you, I am..”. I would just stand there thinking I have no reason why I should go to them and say anything. Why should I spook them? Isn’t it enough that they are in a country where nobody speaks their language and nobody even looks like them? Like…daaah!
So I wouldn’t talk to them unless challenged to do so. Guys from other nations on the corridors would look at girls as if they were giraffes in a safari, some sort of exotic creatures. Rarely are there any who try to make a move on one of the Romanian girls. Probably because they speak funny, which could be rather amusing. There was this one guy from Albania who would chase around basically everything that had boobs, including my roommate and he would come to our room and say all these cheesy things, trying to get laid, and I would just melt behind my bed stand and try not to giggle too loudly. He was scary for half the floor and every time his voice was heard on our floor, doors would be locked and rooms would pretend to go empty all of a sudden, as if everybody were in danger of being attacked by a serial killer. Unfortunately he did manage to get laid occasionally and probably managed to have sex with all the noisy Albanian girls from the first floor, if you ask me. Cause they were playing hard to get a lot, you understand…
So, going back to my dilemma, I tried from highschool even to get on these sites that promise you will find someone your age to exchange emails with . I would spend a whole lot of time thinking about what I should write in my description and even more time thinking about what defines me as a person which might be relevant to a larger mass of people who might run into my profile. And at first I waited, I emailed a couple of people, some even answered back. For six months, I even exchanged cultural thingies with a guy from Glasgow called William who was older than me, but some sort of language freak, sort of like me. He went on Erasmus exchanges wherever he could, learned German from scratch and even went there often. He now lives there. All this I know from facebook, cause after things got busy, our cultural exchange thingie was less important. I envied him for his travels, immensely.
After that I befriended some guy called Peter, who wrote really nice emails, but that ended even earlier than the exchange with William did. He sent an email about a month after we ended talking saying he had some really ugly manifestation of Lyme disease, which got worse, so for some two weeks he could not get out of bed, because of high fever, and then it took some time to regain strenght. I replied to that email, but I didn’t get any response back. I truly hope he didn’t die.
After that I stopped, although I am not so sure if I erased all my profiles.
I started again this year, when I found a penpals thingie that was a lot like facebook, although similar rather to the old penpal sites I used to frequent before (no matter how hard their developers tried to change them). And it was nice, until I ran into a bunch of Moroccan dudes. Gosh, if it’s not Morocco, there’s always Iran and when it’s not Iran it’s India. And they all want to be your boyfriend, of course, although you have written big and clear on your profile that you don’t want that. Even ran into this dude once, who added me on skype, who would not stop biting at his golden necklace and type me that I was beautiful like a ray of sunshine embodied on Earth. Of course, it is pleasing to hear guys saying you are pretty, even if you are in a relationship, but somehow I sometimes feel as if they are grabbing my virtual ass saying they know what I’m truly made of and that, with or without a relationship statement, they know I am a really really dirty girl. I tried to befriend girls, but those who have decent English are the real dirty girls, who would rather exchange emails with a six pack than to exchange emails with me. So I gave up, and I said: let the men in.
So far I found a French guy (a French somebody to exchange emails without getting virtually grabby was what I was looking for), but our conversations go more like:
Me: Bonjour, comment ça va?
Him: Ça va bien, merci. Et toi?
Me: Moi aussi. Tu vas bien?
Him: Oui, oui, je vais bien. Je ne fais rien d’interessant
Daaaah, I am à la maison, et rien happens à la campagne! Glad I made eye contact with the pig today, tho’.
Then I feel like a moron for not doing anything interesting. Then the conversation drops.
In conclusion, finding foreign friends sucks just as much as finding foreign readers does. But I never lose hope that someday I shall befriend some foreign people, that I shall be able to speak in Italian with that Italian lady at the supermarket and that everything shall be just fine, and 10 years of English shall not be for nothing.