Real-life Tinder in the park
‘I’m swiping right on everyone today’
When international and European law student Tekla Emborg moved to Groningen from Denmark last August, she struggled to make connections due to the lockdown and online classes. ‘I don’t know who I’m studying with and I haven’t had a chance to make friends in study associations’, she says.
The only friend she’s made in Groningen so far is her retired neighbour, whom she visits every Saturday. They bake bread together and Tekla gets to practise her Dutch, but she admits that’s not a typical student experience. So when her high school friend Andrea Rasmussen came over from Copenhagen, Tekla realised she had no one to introduce her to.
After three weeks locked in together, says philosophy student Andrea, ‘we were hungry for new people and new experiences.’ After a late night study session, the friends came up with an idea of simulating the Tinder situation in real life: they would present themselves in the Noorderplantsoen and give anyone interested a chance to connect with them. ‘Not specifically for dating, but to meet new people and do something fun’, says Tekla.
But why cover their eyes with a blindfold? To make it more comfortable for people to stop by and sign up, the girls explain. ‘That way, you don’t have to make eye contact. And it’s a way to show that we won’t judge anyone’, says Andrea.
The friends headed to the park once the weather was nice and sunny, because they figured people would be happier and more open. They sat down next to the main road with their favourite music on and the objects that represent them – books and a frisbee – on display.
It was a bit scary at first, says Andrea. ‘You know that people are looking at you and you’re basically making a scene in the park.’ But being uncomfortable was also part of the idea to push themselves to do something new and see what happens, adds Tekla.
Being blindfolded, they both had to rely on their hearing more. ‘Every time we could hear someone approaching from the steps on the gravel, we’d hope they would stop by.’
They weren’t sure if people would want to share their contact details at all, but after two hours they had collected six phone numbers. They sent out texts the same day. Some of the contacts turned out to be international students, as well, and some of them even agreed to meet up. ‘And I have a date tonight’, Andrea says with a smile.
Tekla hasn’t found her match yet, but she has no regrets. ‘It was really fun and has brought me new energy. Though we are already back to online studying’, she sighs. ‘Maybe we should repeat it then’, says Andrea, laughing. ‘Meet us in the park.’
Would you like to exchange ideas with Tekla about how to make friends? You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.