Meeting people – how to
As I’ve already been travelling in South America by myself for a bit, going out to meet people on my own is nothing special for me anymore. However, I still get asked a lot about it.
– With whom are you here?
– Well, I just came alone.
– Whaaat? But why? Isn’t that a bit lonely?
Honestly, it’s the complete opposite. I enjoy meeting new people and if I hadn’t gone to places all by myself I would have never met a lot of amazing people I’m now so grateful for being part of my daily life. Even if you’re a bit shy and don’t feel comfortable doing it – leaving your comfort zone will always be worth it. There are so many cool places you can go to to find out for yourself – so be prepared for some you can find in Bordeaux.
Erasmus exchange – Saint Emilion
As I am in Bordeaux with the Erasmus exchange program, the first place I made new friends was university. Especially participating in the orientation week is a great opportunity to get to know your future study buddies. There we went on a lot of trips and even on some adventures outside of Bordeaux. The first one being Saint Emilion. This small village is situated an one-hour bus ride outside of Bordeaux. For me, it really it fulfilled the expected vision of french countryside. Beautiful and quiet, wine yards as far as you could see, chateaux that were hundreds of years old. Saint Emilion is a beautiful destination for a daytrip indeed. We walked around the village as a student group leaded by a guide who told as a bit about its history accompanying us until the wine tasting in the end.
There we met the bizarre but funny owner of the winery. He started talking about how he was running this winery with his wife and never forgot to add:
– She’s my wife – my nightmare.
We had a good laugh about that – as he used it as a catch phrase the whole time. Being the owner of a big winery wasn’t enough for him – he also was an amateur-magician, never too hesitant to surprise his visitors with some magic tricks. Holding up a cord on both ends in his hand he picked a random student, gave him a metal ring and let him drop the ring into the cord from a certain distance. What was presumably a completely normal cord always caught the ring and we were left to wonder: how the hell did he do that? After letting the students take turn in trying the trick, the magician finally revealed his secret: turned out a thing as simple as a magnet hidden on the cord could leave bachelor university students guessing in desperation for half an hour.
We also went on a trip to this lovely city at the sea. After the three hours bus ride I had to get up for at 6am in the morning, it started to rain heavily. Well, we were welcomed with typical Bordeaux-weather right from the start. Finally in Biarritz we couldn’t appreciate the full beauty of the city as it was raining and storming that much we even had to hide in a cave for a bit. However, in the end we did get to experience it – just in the rain, but at least that was a little adventure. Situated at the ocean, this city is a beautiful place with a lot of old buildings and fancy, expensive restaurants. To me, it seemed like a place where my grandparents would love to spend their summer. After walking around in the rain alongside the ocean for a bit we decided to take a break from the storm in one of the cafés – which was hella expensive though. Still, it was a cute little place and I enjoyed the trip no matter what. I even promised myself to go back there in summer to enjoy the city to the fullest with nice weather and sunshine – so far I haven’t kept my promise yet – but I will.
Going out for a drink and partying nearly the whole week is completely normal here in Bordeaux – especially if you’re on Erasmus. I, however, decided to do my liver a favour and shifted my priorities from drinking to dancing. And not any kind of dance. Latin American dance, Bachata and Kizomba. A bit funny though I discovered these dances in France and not in south America – but well, there’s a first time for everything. Granted, I knew a little bit of Bachata before as I danced it once in Chile – but just once doesn’t even count. Kizomba is an African dance, connected to the earth.
As I was just used to classical dance in Vienna, the Latin American hip moves were definitely a challenge for me (and I’m still not sure if I have mastered it quite yet). Being used to dances like the waltz I basically needed to forget everything I knew about dancing before. Doing classical dance you need to ware your distance, you’re stiff, you’re elegant – ideally you feel like Princess Sissi back in time. Dancing Bachata of Kizomba you need to move your body, your hips and more. These dances are way more fun, and I also felt like being way more into the music than if I would dance the waltz. As you can see, I discovered a completely new world for me here.
So, I couldn’t be happier I decided to attend my first class. Over time I found out about other classes, then about some bars you could go to and dance. Slowly but surely, I engaged in the dancing scene. I just love how dancing brings people together, especially when there’s bars you can go to and practise as well. At one, Cubanito, you don’t even have to pay entrance, which is perfect if you’re living on a tight budget but want to do cool stuff as well. Another great place is La Tencha. Situated at the Garonne, also close to the city centre where you just pay 2 euros for dancing a few hours – which is also acceptable.
Language exchange places
These are one of the best places to get to know new people. Most people there come along on their own as well and enjoy meeting someone new. You can practise your language skills (in my case, French) while getting to know each other. Even if you haven’t quite mastered a language yet and are struggling to express yourself, people there will be patient with you. If you participate in a big meeting, you can even choose from a variety of languages like English, French, Spanish, Italian and much more. So, if you’re a real polyglot, you can even focus on a new language every week and have discussions in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. The meetings mostly take place in cafés you can easily find on Facebook. Just search for “language exchange” and I assure you a lot of events will pop up within seconds. The first one I went to was le café des arts in Bordeaux. It’s situated in the city centre, close to the main museum, musée d’Aquitaine. However, there are a lot of other ones as well. For example, monthly exchange meetings in a winery and much more. I would definitely recommend going there – I mean who doesn’t enjoy great conversations over a beer – or wine, if you want to stick to French lifestyle.