An Unexpected Suitemate, Part 2

Earlier this evening—right as I had finished my previous blog post—my suitemate and I were discussing who our third suitemate might be. He proposed that it would be a Vietnamese master’s student coming in on September 18.

Intrigued, I asked him for his reasoning.

He explained that since undergraduate courses had started last week, all of the undergraduates must have checked in by now. Doctoral students are in two-roomed singles, meaning they wouldn’t be placed into our two-room double suite. This meant that only master’s students remained, of which, only one had yet to check in.

His reasoning was sound, and as I was about to agree with him, a knock startled us out of our conversation.

I opened it to see two student guides and a young student—far too young to be a master’s student.

Our final suitemate had arrived, and he wasn’t a master’s student from Vietnam. Instead, he was a first-year undergraduate from Thailand who had studied Chinese in high school.

He ended up choosing to room with Sangwon rather than me, which Sangwon seems quite excited about and I am quite relieved about. Both of them packed relatively lightly, and neither of them have a clunky guqin hanging next to their bed.

Our suitemate proved to be quite popular. His arrival was followed swiftly by a group of girls who came bearing gifts for him. Perhaps out of irony, they gave him a bottle of water. (Our water supply was suddenly cut off earlier tonight—fortunately, Sangwon and I had both showered right before it happened. However, the latest WeChat update mentioned that it wouldn’t be fixed until tomorrow morning at the earliest.)

“Wow,” I remarked. “You’ve made friends already?”

“They’re friends from Thailand,” he explained.

After getting settled in, we introduced ourselves and sat around for a bit as neither Sangwon nor I are particularly party animals. For the past few days, our evenings have consisted of studious work—me slowly progressing on my literature review while Sangwon progressed through his HSK 6 workbook—and short chats with the occasional snack or boba break.

“This is too quiet,” our latest suitemate finally said.

Sangwon and I both looked up from our laptops.

“Do either of you play guitar?” he asked.

Sangwon nodded, “I didn’t bring my guitar with me, but I can play.”

I shook my head—this probably wasn’t the best time to talk about my guqin.

In any case, that ended up launching us into a conversation about extracurricular activities.

It was a short-lived conversation.

Seemingly unsatisfied with austere silence of our productive workspace, our latest suitemate got up and left, presumably to seek out his friends from Thailand.

I suppose it’s only natural for him to seek out entertainment. In the coming days, once classes start for him, he’ll be swamped in work like the rest of us (and possibly begin to appreciate the rarity of such a productive and congenial study space).

So much for my hopes of having a suitemate equally geeky as the rest of us.

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