Il y a trois ans et demi, je suis allée en France pour la première fois. Une caractéristique de la culture française qui m’a frappé est l’attention que les français font à la nourriture. Par exemple, chez la famille française qui m’a hébergé, le déjeuner et le dîner était tous les deux de deux ou trois courses, pleins de végétaux et de plats nourrissants. J’ai apprécié aussi que les repas pour les français sont aperçus comme des opportunités de socialiser, de parler avec d’autres, et de former des amitiés. Pendant chaque repas, on s’assiérait, on se reposait, et on donnait son attention aux autres. On parlait des événements du jour, des idées pour le lendemain, et de tous autres sujets qui se présentaient. Je me suis liée d’amitié avec mes hôtes et avec beaucoup d’autres invitées à cause de ces repas. Ces expériences m’ont formé, et maintenant je vois les repas comme un des temps le plus importants dans la vie d’une famille et dans l’approfondissement des amitiés.
Global InterVarsity is a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on OU’s campus geared specifically towards international students. As part of its ministry to international students, Global IV puts on a weekly “tea time” at the apartment of the leader, Elle. The doors to her apartment are open for around three hours each Friday afternoon for anyone to come; it’s a time for both American and international students to spend some time off campus chatting, eating snacks, and drinking tea. I have attended several times over the course of the semester, and each time I have engaged in interesting conversations with the students there.
One afternoon as I sat in Elle’s living room drinking my tea, I chatted with an international student from China. I asked him some questions about his home country, and he began talking about aspects he both liked and disliked about China. He said that he loves China but that if I were to consider visiting Asia, he would probably recommend visiting Japan. That statement intrigued me because I could tell he said it with reservation, as though admitting the superiority of a rival. The reason, he explained, was that in Japan, they “pay attention to detail.” When I asked for a specific example, he described the difference between Japanese and Chinese toilets (a difference I have since forgotten), his point being that the Japanese thought even about one’s comfort in the restroom, whereas the Chinese overlooked such details. He then described the beauty and cleanliness of Japanese cities he had visited. I left tea time that evening feeling intrigued to learn more about the differences between China and Japan and to see if I could find more examples and evidence of what my friend called Japan’s attention to detail.
Earlier this semester, I attended my first international prom at OU. International prom is a yearly event hosted by the International Advisory Committee to give international students the opportunity to experience an American tradition. Having attended “American” proms throughout high school, I was interested to see what an “international” prom would look like, especially after I heard that the DJ would be playing a mix of international and American music. I arrived an hour or so after the dance started and was immediately amazed at the number of people in attendance. The ballroom was crowded with students, both international and American. I maneuvered my way with some difficulty around the edge of the dance floor to the tables on the other side and sat down to observe.
Most people on the dance floor were swaying or shifting their weight from foot to foot in time with the music, but a few audacious students, surrounded by a circle of others, were showing off their moves. This circle would morph and shift around the dance floor as the music changed and different people chose to display their talents. To my disappointment, the majority of the music was American pop; however, several international songs were played as well. Halfway through the night, the president of the Turkish Student Association performed a solo and received rousing applause. The event was more similar to proms I had previously attended than I expected, which, in retrospect, makes sense, since the goal of the event was to introduce international students to an American tradition. I enjoyed the event and hope that it was an enjoyable and memorable experience for all international students who attended.