Studying abroad

Is studying in Europe exotic?

I am often asked which is the most exotic country from which I have friends in my studies abroad.

But then I get confused, because I don’t know which countries are considered exotic.

Perhaps I can say China or India, however that’s not that exotic in my line of work.

Maybe it would be better if I said Uzbekistan or Lebanon? But then, what if I had the wrong idea of what is considered exotic?

So I asked Google what would an exotic country be. In the sea of tourist offers I see that the most common answers are Cuba, The Maldives, Thailand, The Seychelles,…

I realized that, even though I study at one of the most international universities, I don’t know anybody who comes from these countries.

And it wouldn’t help much either if I expanded the list to Indonesia, The Philippines, Kenya,…

Then I get sad because at our studies abroad we are promised a clash of new cultures. And in my case, exotic is, basically, me and my friend looking for instructions on how to open a coconut or cut a pineapple.

So this basic question gets me thinking whether staying in Europe is, in any way, exotic?

What if us Europeans are just too similar? Maybe only the people who go to study in Singapore or Australia get to experience the cultural shock, and we have to satisfy ourselves with smaller cultural surprises.

Exotic – something far, unusual, foreign.

And I mean, when I used to study Spanish in school I would think how Latin America seemed far, wouldn’t you? But now, I get to talk to people from Ecuador or Mexico every day on their native language.

And it is unusual when my roommate cooks a traditional dinner and we don’t have to use utensils.

What is even more unusual is that in a team of 12 people, they all happen to be from 11 different countries. I have to admit, that is kind of exotic.

Besides, I understand that my country is also exotic to some people (even after they realize that it’s not Siberia).

They’re surprised when they hear that one country was so into telenovelas, and replaced them with Indian and Turkish TV shows.

And wait until they realize what “promaja” is and get into a discussion with people from The Balkans whether it is harmful or not…

Exotic – something foreign, unusual, far.

We’re all kind of foreigners here, I guess.  Everybody has something they bring from their culture that someone else might find peculiar. And no matter the distance, for each of us our countries are far from here.

And so, as an answer to the question from the beginning, I would list all of the countries from which my friends come from. Because each and every one of them is exotic in its own way.

Although, I do have a friend who has a co-worker from Sri Lanka. If I met him, I’m sure that an answer to this question would be a lot shorter.

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