Yesterday I was eating lunch in a local deli and catching up on my latest Kindle download. Halfway through my mac and cheese, two women sat down at a table near mine. Before taking her first bite, one woman began to tell her friend how all she wants is to have a few friends. She lamented that it's hard to make friends in a new city if you're not school, "Where do you find them?" she asked. Next she began explaining that her only social interaction consists of time with her boyfriend's grad school classmates. "All they talk about is school and gossip. Who sent this email, who responded and who didn't. Can you believe the professor did that? How could he?" She complained of being the only non-grad student and that she felt out of place in their academic circle.
Over the last eighteen months I have had the same exchange with Alvaro countless times: They all speak so fast. I don't know anything about law. You have all been friends for years, how can I be a part of that? It's been a long, slow process but I can now be a part of his group of friends without being a nervous wreck.
While eavesdropping, I realized that being in Lima has changed my view of social difficulties. If I were in the same situation as that woman, I would find one person to chat with and slowly build allies. I would try my hardest to be involved, because I no longer had language as a crutch. I would have to do it because I can already hear Alvaro saying to me, "You can do it! They all speak English!" And that thought scared me a little. Well thanks, Lima, you've just raised the bar.