I was sat in my Italian class, a week after arriving in Italy to prove my worth to my parents in my new Italian Liaison role. I moved from the UK to Italy with no knowledge of Italy and, having only been there a couple of times previously, no knowledge of the culture. So far, it was a bit of a culture shock to say the least.
We’re half way through the class when the door flies open and a hot mess of a blonde bursts in and announces (in English – BIG no no in Italian class) that she’s sorry she’s late but she’s here now, which is the main thing.
In the next hour, we all find out about how she left her millionaire husband in NYC for an Italian living in the small town of Ravenna. She has a maltipoo whom she misses so much she starts crying every time there is any mention of a dog, and she hadn’t started the course last week like she was planning because she had to have some sort of medical procedure which has left her very uncomfortable.
The morning break arrived and we walk downstairs to have the obligatory cafe. I’m still a little shell-shocked at this point. This gorgeous blonde has completely captured everyone’s attention and has been more open with a bunch of complete strangers than I would be with some of my friends.
I take my first sip of cappuccino with a sigh of relief and Erin turns to me and says (these exact words), ‘Emma – we need to be friends. I’m new here and so are you and neither of us know anyone. We need to stick together. Give me your number.’
Just like that.
No intros, no small talk. Straight in at the deep end. She knew nothing about me but she knew she needed friends. So she asked for them.
That weekend we met for a coffee which turned in to a whole day of coffee drinking, talking, walking, shopping and essentially sharing our entire life stories with each other. I’d made a friend for life.
The photo for this post was taken on the DLR (part of the underground tube network in London) on our way to a great night out when she came to visit me before Christmas. I’m going out to visit for a week in May and can’t wait. She’s brought her dog over now and it’s adorable – just in case you’re a dog person and were wondering.
The moral of this story: if you want to make friends like a New Yorker, you have to capture the attention of the room. There’s no point hiding in the shadows hoping someone will approach you (like I did in that Italian class), you have to go out and take what you want.
The saying ‘the nice guy always finishes last’ isn’t always true but there’s a lot to be said for being nice more loudly – you are a great person. You have a lot to offer. You deserve it. Go out and get it.