Column: New food and new friends

By Gus Bode

Before I moved to Carbondale I had never eaten Indian food.

It’s kind of sad that it took me so long to discover the amazingness that is naan bread, chicken tiki masala and pork vindaloo. After my first taste, I was hooked. Only one of the two Indian food restaurants that were here when I first moved in remains, Jewel of India, and it moved locations some months back to right across from 710 Bookstore. If you haven’t tried the food, go do it now. As it stands, India is now the No. 1 country I would move to based solely on the deliciousness of the food.

Despite its small size and rural location, Carbondale manages to offer residents, in particular students, the chance to branch out of their cultural shells. This is due mainly to the presence of the university and the large number of international students who come here to study.

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Another great place to experience the different and delicious tastes the rest of the world has to offer is the International Grocery in the Murdale Shopping Center. If you feel apt enough in the kitchen, you might try making your own exotic dish with the help of the Internet and the staff at the International Grocery.

Food, however, is only a small step. As mentioned above, Carbondale is home to many people from many countries. The best way to get out of your cultural shell is to go up and talk with one of them.

I’ve had the good fortune of making some friends from Latin America due to my work at the Daily Egyptian and my second major being Spanish. My time with them has given me a better understanding of how things work outside the United States as well as valuable cultural insight. I’ve also found them to be good people with great humor and intelligence.

The biggest barrier to overcome when befriending international students would have to be language, and I think this makes some people skittish about interacting with them. What many people don’t realize is the majority of international students speak English. While it may not be perfect, it would in no way inhibit one from building a friendship. In fact many new international students would gladly make friends with someone with whom they could practice their English.

Speaking from personal experience, I know how hard it is to be living in another country trying to learn the language. There is nothing more frustrating and embarrassing than trying to express yourself and the person to whom you are speaking doesn’t understand you. Showing patience and kindness by offering nonjudgmental help and friendship means more for some international students than you may realize.

I strongly encourage students to take advantage of the time here in Carbondale to get to know another culture by making some new friends. Chances are slim that you will ever find such a diverse population in such a concentrated area outside this campus.

Making international friends now may lead to long lasting connections that could come in handy if you ever find yourself in Mumbai, Seoul or Bogota and need a couch to sleep on.

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Wenger is a senior studying journalism and Spanish.

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