Craig Sjodin/ABC
Aili Nahas AND Lanford Beard
May 19, 2015 07:00 AM

Going into The Bachelorette‘s premiere Monday night, one thing was certain: The twist of having two potential Bachelorettes face off would be awkward.

Surprisingly, though, the two women in question – Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson – say the discomfort dissolved almost instantly as they greeted their 25 suitors.

“At first, I had a lot of nerves, and once it started happening, it was really fun,” Kaitlyn, 29, tells PEOPLE.

Britt, 28, admits the set-up was “so weird,” but she says her experience as one of Chris Soules‘ prospects on the latest season of The Bachelor took away most of her first-night anxiety.

“I didn’t have as many nerves as I felt like I would,” says Britt. “Last season, getting out of the limo, I was so nervous it was paralyzing. And this time, I don’t know if it was just that I had been through the process before … I just kind of had this peace about it.”

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For Kaitlyn, her differences from Britt were neither good nor bad. They just were: “I think we were both very aware of the other’s presence there.”

She explains, “I know that my way of doing things is, I go to my sense of humor. I know I’m going to be making the guys laugh out of the limo, and I know she’s going to be making them feel very comfortable. It’s just different.”

The most unexpected outcome of the competitive courtship, says Kaitlyn, was that the ladies got past the initial weirdness of greeting the men side-by-side and managed to develop a sort of camaraderie: “I think we actually had a really fun time with it,” she says. “We’d kind of look over at each other and laugh. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. It kind of was like having a friend there.”

Part two of The Bachelorette‘s premiere airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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