Proximity explained

by Sonja Nikcevic

We should name this soon has only been open for business for two days, and already, a standard’s been set. The injustice of visas, Obama calling tech service… it’s all there and it’s all fantastically written. This is my crack at keeping the pace up.

I recently upped and moved again, this time to the beautiful city of Hamburg. I’ve spent my first days registering (for everything and anything), chasing Internet connections, exploring, and attempting to sprech Deutsch (at an hour too early to comprehend). The rest of my time, I’ve spent in my miniscule dorm room – shared bathrooms, kitchens and all. Now, what makes all of the above charming as opposed to daunting is the people around me (and Ikea, Ikea helped with the room). In the space of a week, I’ve grown close to people I called friends, but didn’t talk to all that much last year in Denmark. And the reason for it is simple – proximity.


Last year, we, the Mundus crew (now also known as Aarhus survivors) all studied together, attended the same classes, but were thrown into different types of student housing all over the city. And within those student housings, an astounding amount of friendships were born, at an age when they’re very much likely to last. Now think about it, that cross, tick and preference we marked down on a housing form may have set the course for everything else we do – a classic case of the butterfly effect, if there ever was one. (Here’s another, with a perfect quote and perfect example).

None of this is limited to us Mundus kids either, the neighborhood you grew up in, the desk you chose on the first day of school, the bus line you take to that school, that’s what “by accident or by design” chose your friends for you at an early age. Later on, chance and accident gave way to friendships based on mutual interest – the clubs and classes you signed up for, the universities you chose and jobs you applied for. But again, geography outmasters it all. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” the line goes. And it couldn’t be more true. There are (at least) dozens of workplaces for each profession, dozens of schools, dozens of gin joints in each city. And you walked into your best friend’s, or partner’s.

casablanca bitches

Does that mean that if you had walked into a different room, ticked a different box your best friend wouldn’t be your best friend?? It’s a tiny bit unsettling that something that runs so deep started with the metaphorical flap of a butterfly wing, and could have not started at all.

The next obvious question is, would you have met anyway? At a different bar, different gin joint? But that right there is a whole other blog post on destiny vs. free will and the choices we make.

What’s certain is that geography, and within it proximity, shape us more than we’ll ever really know. From large scale examples like culture and borders within which we grew up, to the more miniscule examples above, they shape not only our mindsets, but our closest circle of companions.

Now there are those who will argue that they didn’t necessarily become best friends with those from their own housing unit, or neighborhood. And I’ll shrug and say that this rant of mine may easily be flawed, but again… of all the journalism Master’s in all the world…


Speak that beautiful mind of yours!

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