How does one make friends? By talking to new people. At least this is how things work on paper. In reality, however, it’s easier for you to conquer Poland all by yourself, than to meet and have fun with total strangers. Especially if you have just moved to a new city in a new country.
I envy kids in this regard. They can come up to others with an open heart, say something like, “hey, I like Spider-man. You too? Awesome. Let’s be friends!” and it will work! A phrase like that will earn a playmate for a child.
Imagine yourself, as an adult, walking to someone on the tube and saying something like that! In 9 cases out of 10 someone will call the bobbies on you.
This gap in communication between adults is only widened by the fact that there are cultural differences between us. I have seen far too many people during my time who sincerely try to be friendly to other yet fail miserably, because what you say in London matters as much (if not more) as how you say it.
Before we can proceed to the art of communicating with people who say one thing and mean the polar opposite f what’s been said since birth, it’s best to mention the things you shouldn’t talk about under any circumstances.
Why? Because in London, no one will tell you that you did something wrong. We are too polite for that. We aren’t too polite to not get offended however.
Thus I present to you a list of red flags or, if more simply, things you shouldn’t say to a Londoner.
The first thing you should learn about speaking to a British person is the fact that we don’t always say what me mean. When a Londoner says that he or she has nothing to complain I’d run away if I were you. Especially if you are treating yourselves to a pint or two.
Words like “nice”, “fine” or ‘good” never mean what they should when coming out of a Londoner’s mouth. They are, in fact, the polar opposite but we are just too darn polite to call the truth for what it is. “Marvelous”, “great”, “delightful” and “jolly good” are the words meaning that something is OK. Anything less is a horrifying abomination. Get used to this.
Then there’s our unique trademark – sarcasm. We take great pride in the ability to say the stupidest things with the straightest face you’ll ever see on both banks of the river Themes. I even know people who are capable of pulling off a flawless, sarcastic pun even when crying. If that’s not an impressive feat – what is? The safest bet here would be to take everything a Londoner says to you with a grain of salt. You know what they say – better safe than sorry.
Now it’s time to cover the most interesting part. Where does one meet new friends in London?
The answer to this question is tricky. You can try talking to a stranger and you’ll even have success if the subject will be one of three: weather, transport being late or sports (speaking of which, it is football, not soccer, because people are actually using their feet to play with a ball and not doing God knows what with a leather egg.). This strategy will work better in a chill environment of a pub over a few pints but, sadly, for the most part you will be hanging out with coworkers, schoolmates, neighbors, people you already knew, etc.
If you really wish to meet and hang out with new people, do what every Londoner does – go online. There are so many websites, apps and resources out there that allow you to spend your time with people who share the same interests as you do. Give them a shot.
Here are a few of them: