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From Strangers to Family: Making Friends on Model Placement

One of the most exciting and important parts of model life is how the people you meet can go from strangers to family in just a few short months. You show up in a brand new country all alone with these strangers from all over the globe, who speak different languages than you and have completely different life experiences than you. It sounds (and usually is) very scary and difficult, but those people will often become an integral part of your experience in that country.

I honestly had a whole other topic planned for this week but as I start my final week in India, it feels right to discuss the relationships I’ve formed while I’ve been here. Leaving your country completely on your own, and showing up in an apartment full of strangers is more than overwhelming. Even though this isn’t my first trip as a model, it was my first time living in a model apartment and sharing my living space and my bedroom with people. And it was terrifying for me. I have always had a really hard time sleeping in the same room with even my closest friends, and can get very anxious trying to speak to new people. Sounds like a great start, doesn’t it! But I didn’t have a choice, so I made it work. I came downstairs on my first day to meet people and get the essential information about the apartment and city, but after that I barely left my room. Most of the people in my house are from the same country so they communicate in their language, which is understandable, but it made me extra nervous, because it can be hard to break through that barrier. Though it gets easier with time, it takes some adjustment. After three months here it is so much easier for me to talk to and open up to new people, so I hope on my next contract I will have an easier time. If you asked a single one of my roommates, they would probably tell you that for the first week I was in India, they never even saw me. I was too anxious to cook and would leave my room to eat something simple and then go back for the next few hours. I had to hype myself up to even leave the room for anything. On that first weekend, one of my housemates invited me to go out with everyone and it was a great way to really meet everyone and speak to them. After that it was much easier for me to get out there and at least converse with people, so I slowly got to know them.

The change really started when my roommate arrived. I spent the first three weeks with my room to myself so I was more easily isolated, but when my roommate arrived I had someone that I was forced to spend time with. She is from England so having someone else who is English with me completely changed the game. She’s also a very outgoing person so with her by my side we really started to get to know our housemates, and I managed to open up. After a couple weeks we had a nice friendship group going, and she has basically become my sister. Because of that, the past two months have been a great experience for me.

Me and my roommate <3

When you are surrounded by people constantly, all living the same unique experiences, you can build a bond unlike anything else in the world. I’ve lived here with these people for 2–3 months and I feel like I’ve known them for way longer. Models live such a strange, difficult, unique life, that the understanding you have of one another, even when you’re from different countries, is vast. Though I had a hard time getting to know people when I first arrived, sharing a home and experiences with people, it is pretty hard not to become close. Each person will teach you something new, and I think if you make close friends, it’s impossible to leave a contract as the same person you were when you arrived. You learn ways to communicate with people who don’t speak your language, sometimes picking up another language along the way, and you learn to know and understand other cultures on an intimate level. It really opens you up to the whole world.

On the other side of these wonderful friendships you create, there is the leaving. After spending all of your time with these people for months, you then have to leave each other. I’m writing this an hour after I watched a friend get in the car to the airport, and though he wasn’t my closest friend, it still leaves a gap and you can notice the change. Going from seeing someone daily to possibly never again is a very disorienting experience. Thankfully, we have social media, and we can keep up with each other’s lives. You make an effort to keep in contact with those who are important to you, and the likelihood of running into someone on another contract is pretty high. Some of these people will be lifelong friends, and the bonds you share cannot be broken.

Eventually you get used to the feeling of meeting new people and having to say goodbye. It gets easier, but it never gets less lonely. You have to be good at being by yourself in this life, and knowing who to trust and which people you want to keep in your life. Being so far away from home, you lose most of the people you thought were closest to you. Distance is hard and you become a brand new person when on placement, so of course those dynamics will change. . All this to say, your relationships are forever changing, and while you can feel very lonely, and will definitely have to be good at being happy by yourself, you will meet people along the way who you will make feel just a little bit more at home. I know leaving India is going to be extremely difficult for me, but I also know that the people meant to be in your life won’t be going anywhere, and that we will see each other again. Until next time,

Sammie Taylor

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