Exeter’s diversity unifies people from all over the world. Every year, people from more than 50 countries join in this small yet magical town to simply meet other interesting people, or to fulfill intellectual curiosity.
As I walk down the halls of Cilley, or run in the quad in front of Phillips Hall to get to my Journalism class, I realize that each person I face has fascinating traditions and compelling beliefs. I came to Exeter summer to fulfill my own intellectual curiosity and to hear other students’s stories about how their traditions differ from my own.
Mariana Valeria Verjan piñon, a bubbly and energetic girl from Mexico, shared Mexico’s traditions and beliefs. Firstly, we discussed Mexico’s prominent holidays. “Dia de muertos,” Mariana said. “It’s the day you celebrate your dead relatives. And you put an offering, your favorite dishes for your dead relatives. It happens on the 2nd of November. And if you can’t go to the cemetery, you stay at home and play their favorite music.”
We also discussed Mexico’s famously delicious food. “Tacos are a tortilla that has beef and you put onions and cilantro and you squeeze a little lemon and you put avocado sauce,” Mariana said. We then proceeded to talk about Mexico’s traditional clothing. “Each state has its own traditional clothing, the native groups of these states. Maybe charro.”
I then met a beautiful girl from Pakistan named Noor Malik and we talked about Pakistan’s food and traditional clothing. “The traditional clothing is called Salwar Kameez. It’s like a longer shirt that goes to your knees. For the bottoms it’s like leggings but better quality.”
As for the amazing food Noor said: “a lot of spices, like a lot of rice and chicken. You eat Naan with your hand. For dessert we have Gulab Jamun.”
I also met an intelligent and ambitious girl from Switzerland named Antonia Unger who informed me about Switzerland’s interesting traditions. “The traditional foods, well, Switzerland is divided into different parts,” Antonia said. “There’s French, Italian and German parts and I think the traditions are different in these different parts but I’m from the German-speaking part. And the traditions include, for example, in my region something that’s called Zürcher g’schetzelter. Its Swiss-German. You eat it with these potato things called spetzel.”
We continued to talk about Switzerland’s traditional clothing. “We don’t really have traditional clothing in Switzerland,” she said. But what’s culturally very traditional are these long instruments, alphorns — they’re long and you blow into them.”
And of course not to forget the Swiss-German holiday, Sechsilüte. “It happens in Easter time, it’s also special to Zurich. I don’t think everyone in Switzerland celebrates it, but we do…at the end of winter, between winter and summer. And you have a huge figure made from Haywood which is called Bög. And Zünfte, they’re like tribes. in Switzerland we have these like tribes. And the bog is put on fire and we count the time until the head of the sculpture explodes. And the longer it takes, the shorter and worse the summer will be. So if it explodes really soon, we’ll have a really great summer. But if it takes a long time to explode, we’ll have a bad summer. People always bet how long it will take and it’s a huge celebration and its always on a Monday.”
Exeter Is truly the most marvelous place to get to know new cultures and traditions. It’s a place to expand the mind while meeting people from places you love visiting to places you have never even heard of. And for that, I am grateful for Exeter’s diversity.