|05| - "You're a breath of fresh air." -
"I've got exciting news," Jasmine said as she burst through the flat door one Saturday afternoon in late October.
"Excite me," I replied, raising my eyebrows in apprehension, wary that Jasmine's idea of excitement could differ greatly from my own.
"I've met more British people!" She grinned, clasping her hands together. "At last, our army of two can become an army of six."
"You met four more people?" I asked in mild surprise, shortly before realising that this shouldn't come as a surprise at all. Jasmine's confidence knew no limits and it wouldn't have shocked me if she'd heard the familiar language and marched right over to introduce herself.
She began to unfasten her coat, her fingers moving deftly over the buttons before she shrugged it off then draped it over the arm of the sofa.
"Well, three technically," she said. "But they know this other English girl, apparently, so..."
"Did they seem nice?"
"Yeah, I guess so," she replied, with a shrug. "They seemed keen to meet up and stuff."
One thing Jasmine and I had noticed during our Erasmus placement was the way in which all the different nationalities seemed to stick together. To a certain extent it was understandable—you were in a foreign country and would naturally gravitate towards people you could easily communicate with and relate to. The irony wasn't lost on me, though. While Jasmine wasn't here to learn Italian, most people would be and yet we went out of our way to avoid it.
"They're going for drinks tonight," Jasmine then said. "D'you fancy it?"
"Sure," I said, even though the thought of meeting four new people, alongside my super-confident friend, made me a little nervous. "Sounds good."
Jasmine beamed. Even though I'd always surrounded myself with friends, I wasn't the type who went out actively searching for new people to hang around with; having a small circle of close friends was much more appealing than having a large group of distant friends. Jasmine, on the other hand, thrived off social interaction. She'd already made me feel comfortable around her and I had no doubt that she'd have that same effect on other people, too. There was just something about her that made you feel special and I really wished I could elicit the same impression that she always did, her presence remaining with you in the room even hours after she'd left.
"Great," she said, her voice laced with enthusiasm. "Just wasn't sure if you'd have Skype plans, that's all."
"Nah, Nathan and I Skyped earlier while you were out."
"Made any progress on the bucket list?"
A few seconds passed before I realised what she was truly asking. Her face was serious but her eyes were twinkling with interest. Smiling, I shook my head.
"No," I admitted, disappointing her. "He was actually telling me about his Christmas party."
Glancing briefly over her shoulder to check she wasn't about to sit on anything, she took a seat on the sofa, immediately sinking into the cushions and crossing one leg over the other.
"Yeah, for work," I said. "It's in early December. It's like a bar crawl type thing."
She frowned slightly. "A bar crawl? That doesn't sound like a professional Christmas party."
I shrugged. "I think it's just his team, not the whole company."
"How do you feel about it?"
"I think it's great. He spends every day in a professional environment; it'll be nice for him to hang out with work colleagues in a more relaxed place."
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Getting Through ItalyRomance
Italy: home of pizza, pasta and prosecco. It will also be Isobel Smith's home for the next year as she embarks on her Erasmus placement in Bologna. What she soon discovers, though, is that life in Italy isn't just about enjoying the local cuisine. L...