A chain of events
By Kazuya Muto
In a university lecture, especially a lecture with a huge audience, you seldom have the chance to make new friends. There doesn't seem much point in turning to the person sitting next to you and trying to start a conversation because most of the students behave as though their neighbors are complete strangers. Unless, of course, they come in a group where everyone knows each other already. That makes it worse for the people coming in on their own. It's very hard to break into these groups, unless you're a sucker for embarrassment.
Even in tutorials, it's hard to make friends, as in good friends who you socialize with outside of class, not just tutorial mates. But it's certainly easier to get to know the other students in a tutorial than it is in a lecture, and it really does help to be on good terms with people, especially when it comes to problem-solving and writing essays because you can help each other.
Anyway, this week I want to tell you about a strange new encounter I had in my business class. It's a 300-student class, so it was the last place in the world I expected to make a new friend, but funnily enough, I did.
I was sitting in the classroom one day, waiting for the class to start. Looking around, I noticed this girl I'd met before, sitting by herself. She was Australian but she had been born in Korea. She was kind, easygoing and sometimes helped me with my work, and even though I didn't know her very well, I thought it would be a good chance to practice some English and possibly make a good new friend, so I went over to her.
I sat down behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Hey, how's it going?" I said. The person who turned around was not the person I thought it was. It was someone completely different, someone I didn't know at all! I tried to recover: "Have we met before?" I asked. "No," she said. There was an awkward pause. Then I said, "Sorry, I mistook you for someone else." "That's OK," she said, and as I tried to say something else, the lecture started. I was a little embarrassed.
On that same night, I went to the phone booth to give my girlfriend a call, and as I was coming out, I saw her waiting at the bus stop next to the phone booth. She looked at me in surprise. "What are you doing here?" she asked. I told her that I was calling my girlfriend, and so we got to chatting.
Her name was Seline, she was Korean-Australian, and she was studying Japanese. She was cheerful, friendly, and had a faint Korean accent, which I always find disarming. So over the next week, we chatted some more in business class, and we discussed some of our business assignments.
It's funny how chance encounters shape your life. If I hadn't accidentally bumped into Seline at the bus stop, we would still be complete strangers, but now we have met, we are good friends.
Shukan ST: Nov. 17, 2006
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