By the time I arrived to the International Night Market, the line to the Great Hall on the second floor of the Academic Student Union nearly stretched past Pizza Hut. The line moved quickly, however, and before too long we were offered a cup of orange juice, our IDs were scanned, and we were given dishes before heading inside. The room was crowded, but not unpleasantly so. The dim lighting and clustered nature of the event actually helped to cultivate the market atmosphere the organizers had set out to achieve.
Besides a free tote bag, students were also given a postcard with which to explore the hall, collecting stickers from each nation’s booths in order to win a gift card to Target. Like I said before, the event was crowded at times, meaning I spent as much of my time navigating through students as I did scoping out the dishes.
The dishes themselves, as one might expect from such an event, were highly varied. I was able to try Korean pancakes, some spring rolls, a Russian sandwich and some Indian candy that was handed to me by a discontent stranger. I avoided the American table for no other reason than it was food I usually had access to anyway, though I’ll admit I appreciated the dedication to the carnival theme, with popcorn, corn-dogs and cotton-candy being quite popular amongst other visitors. Others I spoke to had tried cheese-bread and guava from Brazil, beef kabobs, chicken, rice, arabian coffee from Saudi Arabia and tiramisu from Italy. Of course there was a wealth of edibles we lacked the time or the appetite to try, but suffice to say the items that tasted genuinely poor were few and far between.
One appealing aspect of the event was the traditional garb worn by many of the students and organizers, many of whom would participate in the “Parade of Nations.” The parade wasn’t particularly well choreographed, but it was charming in its own right to watch the participants of the parade haphazardly improvise their way down the red carpet. Accompanying each of the nations was a complementary song, some a bit more fitting than others.
By the time I left the event I was happy to have seen so much of the campus gathered together, even if it meant the location was a bit more crowded because of it. The food might have been exotic, but the organizers and other students were friendly and familiar, and the Night Market resulted in a comfortable affair.