When you’ve just moved to a new place, you should always say “yes”.
Yes to the farmer’s market vendor who asks if you’d like a taste of the tiniest, most flavorful clementine you’ve ever seen.
Yes to the assistant who wants to go apple-picking next weekend.
Yes to the school principal who offers you her extra ticket to an Algerian street dance performance at the local theatre.
Yes to the group of RAs who invite you to join them at their Cheers-esque bar for darts and drinks after work.
Yes to the barman at said bar who insists on dropping the tab as a “welcome to France” present.
Yes to the teacher who wants you to attend his friend’s piano recital because he’s been to South Carolina once and therefore we should definitely meet each other.
As my actress aunt Rhonda always says, the improvisational scene ends the moment that an actor says “no”. To continue the story, he must say “yes” to every offer and invitation, or else the scene has nowhere to go. It’s the same here in France. As a newcomer with no friends or support system in the area, I must build relationships from scratch by accepting every offer of friendship that comes my way. That’s not to say that I’m forgoing all discernment in the friendships I pursue or that I’m saying “yes” to highly dangerous or illegal things, but that taking a raincheck could mean missing out on a great experience and an opportunity to make a new buddy.
All of the above situations happened this weekend, and I loved every minute of it! I’ve made some great new friends in the other Anglophone assistants who are working in the area and in the RAs who work at my school. Saying “yes” (and “thank you”!!) early and often are the two best ways to instantly endear yourself to the natives and have authentic experiences among new friends.