Nimarta Narang | Hello U.S.A.
Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 02:12
I always envisioned that the mall on Black Friday would be similar to a theme park on a Saturday afternoon. I imagined there would be parents screaming after their kids and long lines, with people casually bumping into each other as they run from one store to the next. I supposed Black Friday might be hectic, as shoppers race to buy items to check off their lists. I assumed that by the end of the day, people would leave with near-empty wallets, laden with bags full of various things you would only consider purchasing under special circumstances.
I did not wake up at 4 a.m. to wait in line. I did not have a huge list of things to get. I did not bring a whistle or stash extra snacks and water in my purse. (This was the kind of stereotypical vision I had formed from advertisements I used to see back at home.) In fact, I was actually a little disappointed not to see a mass of people in the mall — but that was probably because I went in at around noon.
It’s a little strange how some events can cause a huge number of people to conglomerate in one space: football games, movies, discussion panels, parades and, of course, the greatest sales day of the year.
As I was trying on a seemingly endless amount of coats, I noticed a small incident occur. A little girl was trying on a jacket when an older woman accidently knocked her over. As the girl started to cry, her mother tried to console her by assuring that she would never have to see that woman again (or at least not until next year’s Black Friday, I wanted to add).
This got me thinking. Though events like Black Friday involve so many people, this does not mean that they are in any way social events. Black Friday is only social in the sense that shoppers are in the presence of others; however, these people usually don’t interact with one another. People attend these events for a common purpose — shopping. Indeed, last Friday I had something in common with everyone at the mall — one of the pivotal things needed in order to build an acquaintance. But somehow, as the event winds down, everyone returns home having made few new connections.
I realized that I had been in a similar situation just three months ago when I first landed at Tufts: Pre-orientation and orientation week were filled with hundreds of college newbies and their parents. The only difference was that the first-year students wanted to socialize and often pushed themselves to talk to as many people as possible. In contrast, during Black Friday, the main interactions involved people accidently knocking into each other and brushing past others to get to that last pair of boots. At Tufts, I have met many wonderful people from all over who have so many impressive things to offer. It almost seems as if I meet someone new every day — and these exchanges often incorporate the same level of enthusiasm that is so present on the first day of freshman year. Here, I don’t feel like a stranger at all, and luckily no one brushes past one another.
As the days begin to grow darker earlier, it makes me realize that the end of the semester is creeping closer and closer. I’ve learned so many things, met so many people and have had so many experiences here at Tufts. It’s almost time for us all to go back to our homes — and for me to go back to Thailand — but it comforts me to know that we’ll have the opportunity to meet again, unlike the shoppers in the mall. I’m sure that the next semester will bring me many more exciting encounters. I have a lot more to experience as an international student, but for me — and I’m sure for many of you, as well — Tufts has become a home to which I will be glad to return.
Nimarta Narang is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Nimarta.Narang@tufts.edu.