Monday, October 25, 2010

Socializing, or lack thereof

Before I moved here, I'd lived by myself for eight years.  I enjoy my time alone, my own space and the freedom to do or not do whatever I want there, the quiet atmosphere, and having a bathroom all to myself.  There are certain things you get used to doing on your own, all the time, over nearly a decade.  Now that I live with roommates again, there's the issue of other people in the house.  In a way it's nice to have a friend as a roommate, someone I can talk to whenever about whatever (in English, no less!).  Sometimes there's a little bit of friction from time to time when someone leaves their dishes on the drying rack for a week, doesn't clean up in the bathroom after themselves, et cetera.  I'm sure I do things that annoy others as well.  I walk around in my pajamas all the time - hell, there wouldn't even be pajamas if there weren't roommates.  But I think that keeping one thing in mind can alleviate most of the friction that comes with living with other people, and that's an awareness that someone else needs to use the common areas after you use them.  I don't think that younger people who have lived with their parents their whole lives understand that fact right out of the nest, but they can get a long way by acknowledging it.

There's also the arrangement of the apartment buildings themselves: one side of the building directly faces another building, so it's been an evening amusement to watch people through their various windows.  There's one room that always has an umbrella leaning against the wall, and other room where there's always a guy sitting at his computer with no curtains at all and nothing on his walls.  One neighbor does her dishes without a shirt on.  Most people have curtains up, but in rooms without curtains or if you forget to shut them in the evening, your life is pretty much on display to a wall of strangers.  Who needs television?

Usually I keep to myself and play on my computer or go for a walk.  But after getting some bad news about my grandfather, I didn't want to sit around and get depressed all night, so I decided to contact a friend and see if anything was going on.  One of the things I could always do in the states was call someone up and see if they wanted to hang out, watch a movie or TV show, go out to dinner, etc. and have social time every now and then.  Only being here a couple of months means I don't really have this network of friends yet, and I thought about how difficult it was to meet people here.  A couple of times I have gone out to a bar, only to find that everyone there was in large groups of friends already, and that there was no one by themselves to talk to.  Perhaps it's just that I don't really know how to go out and meet people that well, I've never been much of a bar fly, but there's just not that many other places to meet people.  There are university groups, but most of them are ten years younger than me.  There's also that fact that people here are by nature not sociable with random strangers.  Most of the friends I have here I've met simply by luck, or at a concert, or karaoke, or something similar, so perhaps I need to go do more of those things.  It's almost a complete reversal of how people interact in the States: people will just not talk to you on the bus or at a bar, but they'll sit naked next to you in a hot steamy room!

This week we have academic break, so except for my Iltalukio language classes, I have a free week ahead of me.  I think I'll try to do a bit of traveling, it would be nice to see Tallinn again for instance.  I need to get out and see some things while there's still daylight left to do it!

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