Strangers to Friends in a Matter of Minutes
On a weekly basis I chat with strangers very often due to working in a retail space and those encounters can range from exchanging hello’s and how are you’s to customers ranting about their lives. Most of those times the conversations last anywhere from a minute to five minutes, nothing more, nothing less. You make those small connections for a matter of minutes but it’s never really something more in a work place setting.
The last time I spoke to a stranger and made a friend out of that talk was during my recent trip to South Korea.
While vacationing in South Korea, I signed up for a tour experience to an event with a friend I was travelling with. The tour included a bus that travels to and from the event, a café pit stop, a surfing lesson, and last but not least a ticket to the event. For the surfing lesson, we arrived at a beachside roughly 1.5hrs away from the final destination and during that time we were all led to a swimsuit store to change into surf wear attire. Within the tour there had been a split between groups – Group A and Group B, my friend and I were in Group B so when it was announced that Group A would change first, my friend and I lingered outside the shop chatting. We noticed a girl standing alone looking confused to which I approached her and asked if she needed help.
The stranger looked at us very happily that we spoke in English and asked if we needed to change into swimsuits to which I answered ‘only if you wanted to, you can dress in whatever swimwear you’d like.’ We chatted with her briefly before we went to change into swimsuits ourselves and found her waiting for us at the front of the store. The three of us introduced ourselves, the typical ‘where are you from?’, ‘what are you doing in South Korea?’, ‘How old are you?’, and ‘How are you enjoying the day so far?.’ My friend and I had learnt that she was in Korea for an exchange program until the end of the year and from that point onwards we talked a lot about our lives very easily with each other.
From that one instance of asking if she needed help, we all became friends pretty quickly. We learnt how to surf together, we grabbed snacks at a convenience store afterwards together, and we even sat near each other on the bus to the event! At the event, we even stayed grouped up with one another and had lots of fun watching the artists perform. In the end, we all exchanged social media accounts and eventually met up another day after the tour experience to hang out one last time while my friend and I were still in Korea.
It was a great experience I would say in the least, as an extrovert I enjoy meeting new people constantly and being able to make an English speaking friend in a foreign country was exciting and new. Building these in person connections is not something you can do easily online because you can’t gauge a person’s behaviour through a voice channel or text interface. I also think that moments like these are much more memorable because I was able to experience it in person and within real time.
While it is 100% scary to engage in a conversation with a complete random stranger, you’ll never know what you can get out of it and sometimes the encounters you get can be pretty pleasant.