Author Archives: time traveler's notes

process post 1 | talking to strangers

For the last 4 years talking to strangers in real life wasn’t an issue for me. I believe it’s mainly due to my experience as an international student. When I first came to Canada, I was a bit shy and insecure about my accent. However, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. Talking to unfamiliar people became an essential skill, which was needed in various situations: from asking for time or directions – to building a social circle. I also once worked as a barista in a pop-up coffee shop, where I had to greet passers-by and ask if they would like a cup of coffee. It was a pleasant experience, seeing some positive responses from people and engaging with them in small talk.

This time I decided to start a conversation with a girl, who was sitting next to me in a lecture hall. I opened a pack of candies and offered one to her. I was glad that she accepted it because I was a bit worried about her reaction. If she had declined and ignored me, I would probably feel a little upset. I guess I was lucky, as I´ve met people that don´t want to socialize before.

In his article How to Talk to Strangers, James Hamblin refers to the act of talking to strangers as “breaking the rule”. He states that “It’s up to us to know when and how to break those rules in ways that don’t unduly offend or put other people out”. For me, social context is a huge factor that defines how likely I would initiate a conversation with a person and the way I would approach them. It wasn´t hard to engage in a dialogue with that girl, considering that we’re both students, who are taking the same course. Although, I still tried to be careful with the words and pay attention to nonverbal cues. 


Hamblin, J. (2016, August 25). How to talk to strangers IRL. The Atlantic.