At some point in your life, you’ve probably gotten something that someone else—a stranger to you—wanted. Maybe it was the last ticket to a concert, or a parking spot, or even a job. Either way, it wasn’t really an issue, because the other person was a stranger. But what if you met that person? What would it be like to come face to face with the person who could very well have been you?
I met a girl at orientation—another American—and we pretty well hit it off. We remembered each other’s names, sat near each other at a couple of events, and just generally got along. Then today, I mentioned that I was here at the DA on a Fulbright.
“Oh, you’re the Fulbright person!” I was a bit confused, because I didn’t think that it was particularly well-known within the student body. We had only been here a few days, after all, and it didn’t seem like a particularly juicy bit of gossip. I said as much.
“Well, I applied for the same position,” she tells me, and honestly, I was a bit floored. I had never thought I would be in a position where I met any of the people I had competed against for this award. It had intimidated me during the application process: the amorphous strangers who were invariably more accomplished, more together, and better looking than me. I worried that maybe she wouldn’t like me now that she knew we had been rivals—after all, I’ve done my share of silent seething resentment at people who got what I wanted, and I could hardly blame her if that was the case.
Thankfully, though, it didn’t seem to change anything. We kept talking about other things, now with more of our classmates, who were also waiting to complete the speaking section of our German language assessment. We even went to the student bar and played a few games of pool—where she and her partner beat my team soundly. It works out, I suppose. Regardless of who “won”, we’re both here now, and we’ll get to enjoy what this school and this city have to offer.