I have an OU Cousin. I have been part of the OU Cousins program before, but I was often paired with a cousin who didn’t really want to hang out or do anything together. But this year, I met Céline, a French exchange student from the University of Bordeaux.
Céline is at OU to study American History and Literature. She prefers to concentrate on African American history, which is perfect because not only am I black, and therefore compelled to enjoy the company of anyone as woke as Céline, but I have an extensive knowledge of African American history due to my elementary education at a private all-black elementary school and my parents’ influence. From the very first moment we hung out, we hit it off. We’d been emailing back and forth, talking about this and that. I invited her to coffee, but she told me that she needed groceries and had no means of transportation. So, a few Friday’s back, I picked her up at Traditions and the two of us went grocery shopping.
She told me about markets in France, and how they’re not usually as big as Walmart. I convinced her to try some Little Debbie snacks, which I think she enjoyed. After the grocery store, we went to lunch at a Mediterranean place near my house. I live right across the street from her apartment, so it was no big deal for us to have lunch on my roof. We talked about our families. She has a brother and a sister, like me. But she’s the middle child, and I’m the oldest. We talked about “frat culture” and Greek letter societies, which are apparently unique to America. She said that they don’t have fraternities in France, at least not in the same way that we do here. We even talked about police brutality and how social justice movements that address American societal problems get more support abroad than they do here. She told me that they even had a Black Lives Matter protest at her university.
Last week, Céline came over and she and I went thrift shopping with my roommate. It was really fun, despite all the traffic and road construction. Céline was really excited to be invited thrift shopping, she said that she didn’t know that we had second-hand shops. I’d recent;y gone to the Pre-Departure Orientation for my study abroad program, where I’d learned some of the American stereotypes. On the ride over, my roommate–Nikki–and I asked her if they were true. She said that she’d heard that “all Americans are rich” and that “Americans are loud” and even “Americans are dumb/gullible.” I asked her why she thought Europeans thought that. She said: “Well, since America is far, when people can come to Europe, people think they must have lots of money. And when people think of America, they think of…I think his name is George Bush? And also Homer Simpson, that’s why some people think Americans are not smart. But yes, Americans are loud.” Nikki and I cracked up.
When we got to the thrift stores, I found a few sweaters and Céline found a denim jacket and few other pieces that she liked. We also stopped at Sonic for a milkshake. Well, Céline got a milkshake, a cheesecake milkshake to be exact. She loves that you can get two desserts in one here.
Céline is staying for an entire year, which is a little bit of a bummer, because I’m going to France next semester, so we won’t get to hang out after this semester ends. But I’m glad that I’ve gotten to know her, and maybe one day when she’s back in France I’ll get to go visit, or she’ll come back to the States for a trip. All I know is that it’s fun to make new friends, no matter where they come from.