“Well,” allowed Harry, “I have lived here almost all my life, which accounts for the accent.”
“It would,”agreed his Economics classmate Su Tai as she sniffed appreciatively at the dish he was putting on the table in front of the group. “So, Ha Ri, this is real Diutsic food?” She managed not to stumble over the foreign word.
“It’s as real as my mother cooks,” confirmed Harry. “I don’t know if all Diutsic cooking has cinnamon in rice all the time, but my mother can’t cook the stuff without putting it in.”
“Smells good,” commented Tang Jun. “Do we have to use forks? Wouldn’t chopsticks be easier?”
The rest of the table howled him down and Jun picked up a fork like the rest of them once he’d served himself from the common bowls.
Once the meal was over and the cleaning up was done, the group got down to studying. After an hour of Economics, Shan Mei practised her Literature presentation in front of them. As she was the only one doing Chuan poetry in this, their first, semester they were the perfect practice audience. After the clapping and the suggestions for improvement they went back to Economics for another hour. After that, the study group broke up so they could get enough sleep before classes in the morning.
“Ha Ri, will you be coming to the movie marathon at the Student Union on the weekend?” Han Rei was a movie buff and was trying to induct his study group into the mysteries of the classic noir.
“Sorry, I can’t.” Harry hoped that he’d hit just the right note of regret. “I’m working, both days.”
“What is it that you do?” Shan Mei looked at him, perplexed. “You work most weekends, often both days, and sometimes in the middle of the week. Which isn’t really that much but you can afford this place on your own.” Harry’s one bedroom flat wasn’t very large but most of them were sharing something of a similar size.
“I’m a very junior assistant gi referee and I’m trying to live on my honorariums.” There, he’d told them. How were they going to react?
A moment’s silence then Han Rei asked, “So, why are you studying Economics? And why are you here and not at one of the really prestigious schools?”