Pay No Attention To The Fact That I Should Be Writing A Term Paper Right Now

Seriously, pay no attention.

I just paid a dollar more than I normally would to write my term paper in Cafe Paradiso, the resident fancy coffee place just barely on the Urbana side of campus, because the coffee here is really good and fancy. Actually, this place isn’t even that fancy. The furniture is mismatched, everything is sort of a hogepoge (hogpog? hogpoj? hohgjphohjge?), thrown together on a budget feel, and it’s only claim to fame is the fact that they serve Intelligentsia coffee and have really amazing looking cake (I think it’s probably amazing, but I haven’t actually tried it yet, so this is just a hypothesis. (Also, why is my sentence structure mimicking that of Demosthenes in being unnecessarily complicated? This is saying something, and I don’t know how I feel about it.).

Anyway.

There’s about three groups of foreign exchange students from Asia here (China, I think, from what I can overhear of their conversation), all in their own groups enjoying coffee and/or pastries, and generally just talking. As harmless as this sounds, this would have annoyed the crap out of me a year or so ago. Why? They’re loud, laughing and talking over each other at points, and it’s distracting to those studying. I used to get outright annoyed when this happened for active reasons like that, and then more passive aggressive reasons like being jealous of the suede designer boots one of the girls might have been wearing, or the Macbook Pros they would all have. I suppose I was about to feel similarly tonight, but the group in front of me sitting at a larger table, two girls and three boys, reminded me of something kind of humbling. It reminded me of my friends and I in Turkey.

Looking at them now, I can replace them almost perfectly with us. How many times had we probably unintentionally been the obvious foreigners (granted, not as obnoxiously as the Americans, as I sometimes called them)? Freshman year when I lived with a Chinese girl in the dormitory, I would get incredibly annoyed with her, sometimes for being loud with her friends, and other times for having ordered another pair of shoes which I knew to be fairly expensive. Sometimes it would be other exchange students at a coffee shop casually ordering $5 lattes like it was nothing, like they weren’t even concerned with how much money they were spending. Then again, how many times did I worry about spending extra lira on a profiterole at Poğaçacı? Or ordering a mojito that cost 13 lira at To Stage when we were having dinner and cocktails? Not very many times. The dollar to lira conversion was generous, and I knew I would only be 21 studying in Istanbul with these people once, so why not? And the students in Cafe Paradiso? They have cappuccinos and at least three of the five have cake. One has a tweed jacket I am slowly falling in love with, and another looks like she could have bought her entire outfit from Banana Republic. They look like they’re having a really good time though, and I feel really oddly happy for them.

I’m wasn’t alone in this general annoyance via exchange students; I talked to numerous people before Turkey about how peeved we would be when a group of exchange students came in to wherever we might have been studying and started talking. I guess my attitude towards it has changed in that I’m more okay with it; if people are loud, then they will be loud and earbuds exist for a reason. Seriously, I can’t get made or even faintly annoyed at any of the groups of Asian students in here, and there are five now, all of about five or six people, and they all seem to be having a great night. One consists entirely of fabulously dressed girls and one guy, and all I can think of is all the times that we teased Galen about ending up the only guy in a group of the Dutch Girls.

So, yeah, studying abroad changes the way you look at things even long after you come back. Morals, life lesson, attitude change, accepting others, global unity and understanding, and stuff; I have to continue writing about Sappho.

I might just go spend $3 on a piece of tiramisu; it will be a sort of toast to atoms and çay at Poğaçacı.

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2 comments

  1. Maddie had a Chinese roommate last year. In May, the Chinese girls threw out all of their winter clothing items. Since it was a warm winter, Maddie scored a pair of brand new UGGs that fit me. It;s great to have a garbage picking daughter. You made some good points. It drives me crazy when I accidently sit on the train car that is predominately Asian. They seem to all be from Westmont. Very bad assumption, but I believe I am correct. Did you know Nandini Ramakrishnan? Her mom and I used to sit together. And we did discuss that English is spoken in a lower register than many Asian languages and that is why it bothers us so much.

    1. I don’t think I knew her, but I might have! One of my friends told me about the different registers between languages, and I think he said that it had to do with the fact that inflection plays an important role.

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