Finding myself with a free afternoon, I decided it was time to find a Starbucks and get my (way too expensive and nothing to write home about) coffee on. This was a Solo Journey, one in which I hoped to maybe meet some new people but wasn’t too confident that it would happen.
A half-hour subway ride later, I climbed out of the subway exit and found myself staring directly at Starbucks. That was easy… too easy. So I wandered around the neighborhood for a bit in some light drizzle, soaking in “1912 Street,” another European-style street full of bars, several Spanish restaurants, and a churro stand. How random.
At this point I was ready for my coffee, so I checked out some not-Starbucks coffee shops (all expensive,) and settled with the cozy, familiar taste of slightly-burnt Starbucks coffee. While finally getting around to reading “The Alloy of Law” by Brandon Sanderson, I noticed some white faces passing by my table… OMG, white girls! I gathered my nerve for about twenty minutes, then wandered “nonchalantly” to their table and stood their awkwardly until they noticed me. They were exchange students, brand new in the area as well. Numbers were exchanged, offers of later hanging-outing were given, and I left feeling happy with my exceptionally-outgoing nature.
I walked out the door to leave–and found it raining bushels. So I stood under the awning, enjoying the rest of my coffee and the buzz of downtown. Then approached White Guy, who introduced himself as an “aspiring writer and film-maker.” Cool, I guess, until he proved himself to be a pompous ass. His constant derision of all things China, his need to escape the mundane to let the creative juices flow, and his terrifically condescending attitude showed that he believes “being a film-maker just makes you better than most people.” But perhaps such is the price of greatness.
Gratefully, in the process of talking to him, I met a Tianjin-native who had studied in Canada for four years. We proceeded to chat for the next hour, with her telling me some good spots to check out in the city and some interesting Tianjin facts (for example, that the building in front of us had been in an abandoned state of construction for the past six years and would more than likely never be finished.)
So go (barely-existent) social skills! And lesson learned, you can meet some interesting people when you wander around by yourself in China. Give it a try one day.