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Monday, December 26, 2016

Meeting People in Toronto

I have always described myself as an introvert, but after the year I had this year, I would say I am an ambivert. I need quiet to recharge, and I do prefer small groups of people, but I say I am an ambivert because I don't mind meeting people most of the time. The mood has to strike, though, and I would still prefer small groups, in more quiet settings.

When I was visiting Toronto in April, it was not very hard to meet people from all over the world. Canada was more welcoming of foreigners than America is nowadays! You could see visitors from Pakistan rushing around the airport with their heavy suitcases and trying to find their way around, much like I was. It was fun running into the same people on the bus going to our destinations!

When I was at the airport, I am thankful that Canadians are friendly people. I had never been to Canada before, and their currency was interesting. When I had to ask for directions, I requested the lady sitting at the information desk how much a bus would cost. She told me it was around $2.25 and she was patient enough to show me the coins I'd use for the bus. Later that evening a TTC worker helped me too. I learned quickly after that.

Some of my visits and travels had me meeting people from Turkey and Somalia. They were very friendly people and made a mean cup of spiced tea. It was fun laughing over lunch.

Earlier that day, as I was walking in High Park, I met a gentleman walking his dog. We talked for a good fifteen minutes until I arrived at the zoo. It was actually nice to walk the snowy path of the dog trail happily chatting with a man and his dog.

Later that day I met an older Canadian couple. They let me follow them to the game and on the travels to the competition, we had a pleasant conversation. They were genuinely friendly and once we arrived at the stadium for the Blue Jays game, they wished me the best on my vacation. They told me I'd love the rest of my Toronto trip and to have fun. I also met Michelle that night, a friend I still keep in touch with.

The Saturday before I met up with Moe, I met some Brazillian people. One young woman was a student, and her boyfriend joined her in Toronto. We walked to Union Station together after we finished at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. It was neat walking downtown Toronto with a group of Brazilian students. They were telling me they were on a student visa and want to live in Toronto permanently after graduation. The one wanted to go back to Brazil to be a doctor. She was studying medicine so she could help her home country. Very, very kind people.

I wish I asked them for a group selfie, but you can see the back of them walking.

When I arrived at Union Station, as I waited for Moe, a group of Asia students invited me to join their anime meetup. They said if Moe didn't show up (I was in anxiety mode at that point, I get nervous when meeting new people and nervous they'll stand me up), I could join their get together. I hung out with the students for fifteen minutes before receiving a text from Moe that he was almost here. That was very kind of them to include me in the group, though.  I wrote a poem about this experience for my book:

This is the way that friends come,
nervous, waiting, shaking hands our fears melt;
they welcome me to the group as I wait—
an anime group, their loving embraces felt.

As we wait in Union Station, “oh, he’d come on GO!”
nervous, waiting, shaking hands our fears melt;
“I’m sure he won’t stand you up, but you can join us!”
More people depart TTC with delicious smells.

The anime circle grows bigger, people from Asia,
nervous, waiting, shaking hands our fears melt,
“I’m Jessica,” everyone is meeting for the first time!
They will be exploring the city with new people in belts:

I feel so welcomed, even though I won’t be going with them,
nervous, waiting, shaking hands our fears melt,
we laugh and chat; before I go I send Moe a text,
I thank the group for their welcoming, time must be dealt.

Walking out the door, a transit officer leads me to buses,
nervous, waiting, my beating heart can be felt—
after five minutes of anxiety, I see Moe get off of the bus;
hugging him instead of shaking his hand, our fears melt.

I genuinely felt welcomed in Toronto, and that is why I fell in love with the city. People, for the most part, are kind. It was also breathtaking and clean. 

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