Natural speed please
St. John’s Halls had an entertainment committee made up of and voted for by
student residents, and the last responsibility of the outgoing one was to organize the
orientation program for incoming freshers. There were ice-breaking games, challenges, quizzes, “speed-friending,” and a five-aside football game. A barbeque
was laid on for lunch. We were all given stickers to write our names and courses on,
and encouraged to wander around striking up conversations with anyone and
everyone we could. Normally, this would’ve been the kind of thing that would’ve made me want to curl up in a corner in a ball of dread and shame.
I considered myself sociable, but I wasn’t exactly the stranger whisperer. Liz usually paved a path for me. But there was a leveling aspect to this day that somehow made things easier. After all, we were all new. We were all first-years. […]
We started collecting people. We met Lauren, who had never met Claire but it
turned out they shared a mutual friend they could bond over. She was studying art
history and lived in the apartment next to Liz. We met Ray, an American who’d turned
down the chance to go to Harvard to come to Dublin (we all thought he was bonkers
, and told him so) and whose smooth, TV accent we couldn’t get enough of. We met
Daisy, a fellow English literature student. She introduced herself by saying she did
PR for Essence, which I think we were supposed to know was a club in town, and that she could get us on the guest list for tonight if we wanted.
Someone said, “Let’s go,” and one by one, the rest of us fell in. I felt like I was
being swept away on a wave, but I wasn’t entirely unhappy about it.
Catherine Ryan Howard, The Liar’s Girl, 2018