I arrived at Magdalene College yesterday. Although my home country, Austria, is not that far away from the UK, the journey was quite long and after my arrival I only felt hunger, tiredness and the need for a shower.
The first problem was dealt with very quickly. In the bus from the airport to Cambridge I got to know a German guy who is now participating at one of those other summer schools in town. We agreed on our need for some food and after getting off the bus we started looking for some nice place, where we could have lunch. The woman at the information point recommended a pub called “The Eagle”. So we went there, had a good meal and a chat. We probably will never see each other again, but it was a nice encounter.
This leads me to the first rule of socializing: Eating connects people.
After solving problems two and three during the course of the night, I went to my first lecture at Cambridge in the next morning. It was an introduction about the legal and economic framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As an economics student I have already heard about the theoretic justification of this institution, but the storytelling character of the lecture provided me with some deeper, more vivid impressions about it, which made the whole topic more tangible and interesting.
During one of the breaks and especially during lunch I discovered another principle of socializing: Mobile phones disconnect people.
It is totally normal that when you are in an unfamiliar environment you feel insecure and, thus, try to stay in touch with your friends at home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I myself wrote those “Hey guys, guess who is at Cambridge!” massages on social media platforms. But it just looks strange when you see eight people in a row on the other side of the table starring at their smart phones instead of talking to each other. However, as people slowly started to become more open – partly due to missing WiFi – conversations evolved. The guided afternoon tour through Magdalene College provided the ideal setting for this and it taught me another lesson in socializing: Be curious about each other! You will not get hurt for this. Open up, show interest into other people and do not forget to put a smile on your face.
After dinner, I prepared myself for the cocktail reception in front of the college’s library. Marvellously dressed all of us enjoyed some glasses of wine, sweet strawberries and the company of interesting colleagues who came from all over the world to participate at the CBL program. Some of us, eventually, went to a nearby latin pub, where we also had a good time and got into touch with the local population. This leads me to the last principle of socializing: Alcohol is a social lubricant. Use it, responsibly.