No Thank You I Don’t Drink Coffee


This is a personal essay I wrote for a job application. It is an amalgamation of a lot of the ideas expressed on this blog.



I am fascinated at the dynamism of human beings.

Ever-changing, we can be anyone or do anything or live anywhere. We can interact with every passerby, or only those wearing the color blue, or none at all. We can spontaneously move countries (as I have just done); speak languages we have just learned; drink coffee when we are not coffee drinkers.

A few months ago, I practically inhaled my first cappuccino after having spent the better part of my 20 years telling everyone “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee.” I used to balk at the very idea of the drink, turning up my nose at the smell, chanting, “Tea, please! Tea, please!” This time; however, I ordered without hesitation.



Human beings move at breakneck speed. Today I am in France, on exchange, but tomorrow I could be in Thailand. I find this mildly unsettling, how easy it is.

For no reason in particular, my friends and I were one day sitting on a cliffside at the southernmost point of France. We waved at unknown sailors on a ship turning into the quay. They waved back, startling us.

“I love people,” my friend pointed out, vaguely. “Two sets of strangers, waving at one another.”



Whenever I see an apartment building, I want instantly to cut it in half. I am not being malicious! Rather, I would like to see—in the style of a cross-section—the way the people live. I want to see what they have done with their small pocket of mankind.

(Give a human being a room and they will construct it as a bird does a nest. They will wallpaper it with colourful posters and rearrange things and, at the end of it all, will stand back and smile at their handiwork. They will grow herbs in the feeble light of the windowsill.)



In a sudden burst of inspiration, I woke and glanced at the world map pinned to my wall. I spotted an island I had never noticed before. It was off the coast of Antarctica, and had been previously discovered by someone, surely, but only very recently by me. Sandwich Island. On days like this, my heart lifts at all the potential in the world. Other days I am overwhelmed and must find reasons to rise from bed.



Not long ago, I was eating at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris with an old friend. We are far from home, I considered, sitting in a restaurant we chose at random. Surrounding us are faces we will never see again.

She told me quite casually that her master’s program required her to do an internship abroad, and that she could choose any city, any country. The entire globe was effectively at her fingertips.

I sipped my coffee.

“I’m thinking somewhere in Senegal or New York, maybe,” she said.

My friend continued to explain, but I could hardly hear. I was quaking with excitement, the roar of life itself filling my ears.


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I believe that: (1) language is the most powerful tool we have (2) that bravery is the most admirable quality in a person and (3) that the best is yet to come.

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