We will all have encounters in life when we need to spend a couple of days – maybe weeks or months, even – alongside people we aren’t acquainted with; it can be at workshops, camps, off-the-job training, local festivals, or volunteer work.
It’s truly surprising how fast human connections can be built. I attended a program this past summer, at Stanford, and created the best relationships with some amazing people -all in three weeks. There’s a lot you can learn from people around you, and I think it’s easy to take that for granted. So, I’ve compiled a list of things I learnt this summer in Palo Alto, to remind you to never overlook the little things:
- It’s a lot more fun to share your music.
People can have eerily similar taste in music. That indie band you discovered earlier this year? The one you prided yourself on finding, yet quietly kept joy of being the only one to know them? Yeah, people know them. As crazy as it is, meeting people who hear the first five seconds of a song and sit up, yelping “YOU KNOW THIS BAND?!” is actually a great feeling. I know what you’re thinking – I’ve lost my hipster status. S’all cool. It’s even better having another person to share your love for a band or artist with, and together you can listen to that one song (you know the one) for hours on end.
- Journalling is a good way to keep fresh memories and to see how much you’ve grown.
A close friend, this summer, was committed to journalling – something I’ve always admired. I always thought it was too time consuming and I’m ashamed to say I have dozens of half-started journals in storage, at the moment. The fact is: Reading over those entries from 2011 can make you giggle, because you can always see how much you’ve grown as a person. So, try your hand at journalling -it’s actually really rewarding.
- Travel tip: California is the perfect level of summer. You feel me?
Maybe it’s the past 13 years of living in Dubai, but Californian summers are bliss. If you’re ever going there, pack a couple of shorts and cotton shirts and you’re good to go [Oh, and sunscreen]. Morning and afternoons are golden warm with the perfect dip in temperature in the evening. Not having to worry about getting a heat stroke, after 15 minutes outdoors, is always a win.
- Don’t mess with passionate Football fans: Especially during FIFA.
Don’t ever argue with a Brazilian during an important match – You will lose, I assure you. That’s all.
- Learning about other peoples’ cultures is the best.
It had to be made bold, because it is the best [I’ll stop now]. It’s surreal to watch other people passionately talk about where they’re from: cultural similarities, peculiar traditions and the same kind of craziness in families. Bonus points if they cook you food from their native land.
Fun tip: try brigadeiros, a Brazilian snack/dessert, if you haven’t already. They’re like chocolate caramel-y truffle balls that just melt in your mouth.
- Travel tip: Sprinkles Bakery in Stanford Mall, California is also the best.
If you’re ever there, try their Classic Red Velvet. With liberal amounts of frosting, you can kiss your diet goodbye [or just put it on hold for a while]. Even their black and white is delicious and a 10/10 must-try.
- If you’re willing, keeping in touch isn’t difficult.
Friendships are tricky things. I get it, – you’re busy, I’m busy and Time Zones suck – but if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that: if you want to make something work, you can. Whatsapp is brilliant and so are Facebook groups and iMessage. We live in the 21st century – we should have nothing to complain about.
- Meet more people: You can find the strongest emotional bonds in three weeks.
I went to camp thinking I was going to learn about Business and Entrepreneurship. Well, I did, but I also made some of the best friends I’ve ever had, along the way. I’m close enough to them to call them family. It’s surprising what close quarters can do. Who knows? You could meet a life-long friend at that random local festival this weekend.
- You can survive on Starbucks for a week.
Need I explain?