Nancy Drew in Cambridge: The mystery of the birds that flocked together

Image credit: Pixabay - rihaij

It all began when an Indian batch-mate (in my LL.M. course) told me that other Indian LL.M. students in my batch knew very little about me. My friend said that this was because I had not joined the Whatsapp group for Indian LL.M. students at Cambridge (a group which had been ingeniously contrived even before the start of the LL.M. programme). Being a firm believer in the old school ways of making friends which do not include social media/Whatsapp, I found it a bit astonishing to hear this; I racked my brains to think of a good reason why I hadn’t joined the Whatsapp clique and all I could manage was, “But I don’t think it is helpful!”

I immediately regretted saying this- my friend then delved into the utility of Whatsapp groups, pointing out that most of the social meet-ups among the Indian LL.M. students at Cambridge were co-ordinated through Whatsapp, and since I was often not there at most ‘Indian’ social events in Cambridge (my friend assumed this was because I was unaware of these events), I was missing out. But I beg to differ...

I have always abhorred groups and instead enjoyed being friends with diverse people- I can’t be more grateful for the vastly different personalities which each of my friends-Ned, Bess and George- have. I also remember that before leaving India to come to Cambridge, my friends who had studied abroad advised me that I interact with people from other cultures and get to know them better rather than always hang out with the Indian diaspora. I am mindful that their advice was aimed at ensuring that I have a truly ‘international’ experience. Of course, we find it easiest to talk to people who share something in common with us- my best friend in Cambridge happens to be from India. Yet, I want to give a chance to my friendships with people outside of my homeland. Isn’t that one of the best things about being an international student- that friendships transcend nationalities? How do I expect to know the thousands of people who come from different parts of the globe if I stick only with “my kind” and never make the effort to know the “other kind”? If I am content with knowing just my fellow countrymen, it will inevitably cause me to remain stuck in my comfort zone.

I am the International Officer in my college and I have got to know a lot of international students in the course of organising social events. As I spend more time with people from other nationalities, I realise that perhaps I share more in common with some of them than I do with the people with whom I share a common motherland- all of us have the same insecurities and passions in life, relationships and our careers...perhaps we aren’t so different after all.

At present, I feel truly integrated in Cambridge precisely because I am not integrated within the confines of any particular group geographically or otherwise...I find it easy to strike conversations with the people I meet, no matter their nationality.

I reason with myself why I haven’t joined the Whatsapp group- perhaps, I don’t really identify with the group...perhaps, I haven’t found my flock yet.


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