30th October 2014, Granada (Spain)
It had been a very busy day at university and the idea of going back home and disappearing under a duvet was really tempting, but still I decided to accept an invitation for dinner at a friend’s place. We ended up cooking spaghetti with crab meat (and this plate made the history, as it was the first bonding moment of a wonderful friendship we share today), and having a really nice conversation about ourselves and our expectations for that year. Later on, I still wanted to go back home, but my friend somehow convinced me to go to a club just to say hi to some friends. I was about to go in, when I met some other people I talked to a few weeks before. We hadn’t exchanged numbers, and I wasn’t expecting to see them again thinking that there were far too many international students in Granada, but I was so wrong. After a while, I let them convinced me to go inside for a drink and a dance, and we had an incredible fun time together! And still the night wasn’t over. I went outside just to catch some air, and there she was: one of my best friends in Granada with some other girls celebrating a birthday, I joined them and we ended up on a bench at 4am talking about life and philosophy. An absolutely random night that became one of the moments I cherish the most: those people I was with became some of my closest friends during the year abroad. I still remember the wonderful feeling when I got back home at 6 am thinking: “I’m so glad I went out today. I would’ve missed too much if I hadn’t.” I felt there was something magical about Granada: being open to new opportunities and to new people came so natural and at that time I thought this was something I would certainly take back with me to Edinburgh. Again, I was so wrong.
13th September 2015, Edinburgh (UK)
I had just got back to Edinburgh the day before and you cannot imagine how excited I was to be back in this lovely city (maybe not to this not-so-lovely weather) and have a night out with my friends. We met at the PearTree, and as the weather was still (surprisingly) mild, we sat outside on one of the benches. The pub was full of Freshers as the Welcome Week had just started, so in an attempt to avoid their annoying excitement we sat the most far away possible from the crowd. The girls were updating me about everything that had happened in the last year while I was away, when we got interrupted by a group of guys who asked us if they could join us. As we were occupying only half of the bench, we agreed and they sat down. In a clumsy attempt to break the ice, they asked us if we were Freshers too, and one of us said we were not. The reply to that was:”Oh, then you must be second years!” “Ehm, actually we are fourth years.” To that answer, you could see all the excitement die in their eyes. They asked us a few other questions (the usual questions everyone asks during the Freshers’ Week: “Where are you from?”, “What are you studying?”, “Where do you live?”), and we limited ourselves to a straight answer to those. Then in the rudest way possible, we just got back to our own business speaking in Italian. In the meanwhile, the guys were thinking of a way of getting out of that awkward situation (they were not so quiet about it, probably thinking we couldn’t understand English so well): the plan was for one of them to stand up in a very theatrical way and say: “Guys, it’s cold out here, I’m gonna go inside!”, so that the others could follow him. And that was exactly what happened. But one of them did bother telling us: “We’ll see you girls inside?” YEAH, SURE, ADIOS. We initially laughed at it, but then I couldn’t help thinking of how rude we were. Of how rude I was. This is something that would have never happened in Spain: you would take all the opportunities you get to meet and talk to people, you would even talk to the most random people you would probably ignore in another situation. I felt so disappointed with myself for being back to be the old, sad, reserved version of Tharusha in cold Edinburgh (and surely the weather is not helping).
I don’t think there’s any need to dwell on the conclusions that come out of the comparison between these two scenes. I’m feeling very disappointed with myself for not being able to transfer that magic I encountered in Granada, but I then do realize that it’s not just me, but it’s also about the people surrounding me and the context we find ourselves in. And unfortunately my power to change these are very limited.
Tharusha, from Granada (Spain)