My wife and I recently went to a friend’s place for dinner where there were a handful of people we hadn’t met before. It was great food (apparently) and lovely company.
As new friends do, we were asking about each other.
Word got to why I had come to Turkey. It was to be with my wife (which is a whole nother story).
From a subsequent question in the conversation, I was reminded of my introvert-ness.
Being an expat, I was asked about my circle of friends – whether I knew any other Australian, English or American people.
She was really asking about having English-speaking friends.
The idea I would make friends with people just because they are from my own country or necessarily because they speak English is a strange concept.
In this case, I pointed out a simple fact.
If I actively sought out friendships of this nature then I would be compelled to speak English all the time.
As a full-time English teacher in kindergarten, I already speak more English than I would like.
The #1 advice for how to learn a foreign language (aside from moving to the country of the language you want to learn), is to stop speaking your native tongue.
For native English speakers, this proves to be more difficult than most. Mainly because people want to practice on you, which has the potential to foster a kind of laziness and/or resignation.
But there is another reason.
There is often a hint of condescension on the part of people speaking English with you.
Nevertheless, at dinner, this person’s surprise was toppled by her disconnection when I explained that, in general, I haven’t been someone to actively seek out friendships just for the sake of it.
The closest friendships I have made were while I and the other people/s were engaged in the process of learning something.
Solitary beings crossing paths.
If you are not an introvert, this idea might seem like a cop-out – or just incomprehensible.
As an introvert, to be able to explain this to someone, for them to not quite understand, and for me to be okay with that, to let it be, was a welcome respite.