Crash Course in Polite Conversation

When you really truly think about it, everyone has a story just as exciting or upsetting, important or as heartbreaking as yours.  Everyone has had a life changing moment in their lives, from the person who serves you at McDonalds or randomly sits next to you on the train.  So imagine when you leave school, and perhaps attend university, the truth is that you will become a part of a community with access to the widest cross section of people you will probably ever experience in your lives.

If university is this little community, then the people in your particular course are there because they are interested in the same thing as you.  So obviously you’ve already got something in common, and it should be fairly easy to make friends, right?  What happened to me, particularly in my first year, is that I had a set of friends who I would regularly see just at university, and another set of friends, mainly those who I went to school with, who I would socialise with on weekends etc.  I suppose the main reasons for this was the fact I live an hour away from campus, and I also don’t know how to drive.  This really restricts your options!  Therefore, I’m probably not the best person to be describing or recommending ways to get yourself  noticed in this unique little network however, this week I did get the chance to expand my social circle ten-fold.

It all started when one of my friends invited me up to the QUT Guild Bar as a celebration of completing her first exams.  Honestly, I was slightly apprehensive.  It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunity nor am I some social recluse who stays at home all night studying and never goes out.  It is simply that I always thought the Guild Bar was some mystical place, like some secret underground dungeon that everyone knows about – but no one actually goes there.

Well on Tuesday, two days before the last day of semester, I spent a few lazy hours in the Gardens Point Guild Bar… and you know what?  It wasn’t all that bad.  I guess my original expectation were surrounded by my secret love of American teen shows, and was hoping for a cool little trendy place like the one Joey works in on Dawson’s Creek or the Tric club in One Tree Hill.  Instead I was met with your typical student-friendly bar.  Brightly painted walls matched with red comfy couches, an array of steel plated stools and tables, and strangely more pool tables than employees.  One big stand out feature, was the severe lack of females in the place (although, I realised this was because a second-year engineering exam had just finished).  This also explained the reason it was fairly packed at 12pm.

After getting some much needed help from a possibly half-drunk second-year engineer on my “bending moment diagrams” for an assignment (who was pretty flattered an architecture student would even consider asking for help), I settled in for a nice little catch up with my friend and even expanded my social circle a little.  My biggest love of QUT is the pure variety of people who attend this place.  In those few hours in the Guild Bar, I met an exchange student, a mature-aged student, a student who is also a tutor, people who have moved interstate to attend university and a whole lot of second-year engineering students.

Now if I can meet them just by hanging out in the bar for a few hours, imagine who you could meet at an end of semester party, or even by asking someone for a pen in the library (although, maybe the latter might be taken the wrong way, because who seriously attends university without a pen in their bag?).  I think the biggest regret of my university experience so far, is waiting too long to get involved.  I mean seriously, what did I truly think was the big deal?  I suppose most comes down to my naturally shy personality, I take a little time to warm up.  Sometimes you’ve just to get over it, put yourself out there and go for it.

All of my close university friends are people I met in my first few weeks by introducing myself and having a sweet, polite conversation about how everything is so crazy and you can’t remember anyone’s name.  Honestly, looking back it was difficult and nerve-wracking and a total leap out of my comfort zone; but it was totally worth it.  Even one friendly face in a packed 500-seated lecture theatre, makes everything so much better.

And if the new kid starts chatting to you before a lecture, what’s going to be your story to tell?

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