Friendly Strangers

It seems like no matter where I go, there always seems to be Texans everywhere. Americans I assumed to be everywhere, but Texans? I thought that would be a rarity to come across in Europe. Yet I have met them. In the strangest of places as well.

I met a couple from Texas in London. Dripping Springs to be exact. They just so happened to sit across from me at a cafe and as I overheard the word “whataburger” slip from their mouths I immediately asked, “Are y’all from Texas?”

Now, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I can’t help but try to figure out where people are from when I hear their accents, especially trying to figure out what part of America people are from when I realize they are American.

This couple was very nice. They were super happy to have met another person from Texas who understands what whataburger is. They haven’t been back to the U.S. in four years because the husband is stationed in Firenze, Italy and the wife went with him. “Firenze?” I asked. “My friend is stationed there. He’s a paratrooper for the army.” Turns out, the world is a lot smaller than it looks, the husband is also a paratrooper for the army. He doesn’t know Austin, but now I’m sure they’ve met since then.

My bus came, and I quickly wished them safe travels as I left my table. My one regret: never asking their name.

Texas is huge. There is no denying that, so I was sure I was bound to meet another Texas person sometime while abroad. But when Malu and I went to Paris and we met two girls from A&M University (which is in Texas) at Louis Vuitton I was surprised. We exchanged our travel stories and tips before snapping a quick picture all together and heading our separate ways.

As I was scrolling through twitter that night I just so happened to see my friend from A&M tweet in response to his friend studying abroad in Europe. I thought to myself, “what are the odds this is the same girl we ran into today?” And sure enough, it was. More proof the world is tiny, and that technology is astounding.

It has become somewhat of a joke amongst my friends that I have made here in Segovia. “Find one person from Texas in every city we visit.” Rachel and Jun went to Alicante and texted me when they overheard a family talking about whataburger. “When we go visit you, we have to try it out for ourselves.” They told me after talking about their encounter.

When my sister and I went to Rome we met up with our sorority sister who is from Laredo. Texas of course. I was so nervous. We had been following each other on instagram, but I was too scared to actually reach out to her. I am a pretty shy person, but I was so happy we met her at the end of the day. Such a nice time talking to someone from back home in Texas who knew the same people I did, as well as the same jokes and songs. And I realized, I can survive living here for longer. If I just had the right people.

Although I have met people from Texas, doesn’t mean I didn’t meet strangers from other places as well.

In Rome my sister and I went to an international pub crawl, where tourists from all over can meet one another. There was about five Irish girls, a newly married couple from New Zealand, three people from New York, a guy from Germany, and a guy from Switzerland. That was an experience.

In Athens we shared a room in a hostel with three girls: one from Australia, one from Ireland, and one from Peru. The girl from Ireland was a blast. We hung out with her for the night and shared our experiences of travelling. Highly recommend making friendships this way. 10/10.

On the bus in Paris I noticed a couple speaking english next to me, but they didn’t sound 100% American. I thought they were from the Midwest, as they had that short, airy accent. As I turned to talk to them I realized they were Canadians. Again, we exchanged our stories of travel and of the French language, what little we all knew.

Seville included another small encounter with a lady from California. She saw me say goodbye to my uncle and asked about my travels while being away from family. She assured me that my family will be excited once I arrive home.

And it was then that I realized that all we need to do to make conversations with the people around us is to start them. It is very simple. Ask about their travels, everyone loves to talk about that. Give them ideas about where to visit next. Give them tips on how to travel light. Ask about their plans. People want to be talked to. And even though I know most of these encounters will only be for a fleeting moment, it calls for a nice memory that will not be forgotten.

Friendly Strangers down below:

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