September 11, New Friends

A Chinese classmate who had kindly sent me a pdf version of our textbook, albeit with Chinese translations, wasn’t able to make it to coffee the first time I invited her. She did follow up and continue to text me so I figured she might be interested enough to try meeting again.

We ended up going for milk tea (“this really tastes Chinese, do you think the barista is Chinese?”). She invited me to dinner with two of her Chinese friends and asked if hot pot was okay.

Absolutely! I usually collect Chinese friends over hot pot.

My classmate has short hair and was wearing comfortable, gender neutral clothing so it was to my great surprise when two very extroverted young women in blouses and skinny jeans rushed into the cafe in a loud duo.

They were the kind of effortlessly model thin that blew me a passing breeze of jealousy.

I’m used to being a third (or fifth or eleventh) wheel because of language barriers and these says don’t worry too much about it but her two friends were so friendly and inclusive from the beginning.

We ended up in a corner table by the standing AC which my classmate angled down to cool us off and consequently blew napkins all over the faces of businessmen at the table next to us. I think we all went red in the face trying not to laugh and expose ourselves as they tried to reorganize their table in confusion at the unexplained gust of wind.

Stage 1 of 100 of Chinese hot pot.

We cracked up in two point five languages and I love when I can feel at ease with people from the start. It’s not always easy to catch and then make Chinese students spend time outside of school but when I do, they tend to be very friendly and extroverted people, more so than Koreans.

We four said goodbye later but didn’t completely split up: one new friend came to Uniqlo with me where in the midst of shopping she found a toddler and started playing peekaboo.

She walked me to the station and then we had a very brief but very ínstense life chat about marriage.

She moved here to be with her Korean boyfriend whom she met at school in China. They’ve been together for three years but she stil seems like a very independent and open minded young woman. She went home and in the station I ran into… my classmate and her other friend! They had gone to buy green hair dye.

My classmate texted me later that night:

“You are really an independent person, that’s amazing.”

She’s twenty two and from a culture where people tend to live together; she had been in awe that I came to a foreign country on my own and also did things alone.

Not particularly special by American standards but it was nice to hear nonetheless.

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