Found at: Coop
My college trip to Romania was done on the shoestring budget of the eternal optimist. It was the kind of budget that assumed that all food would be free, all housing cheap, and all transport unnecessary. To this day, I still underbudget any trip I go on, but this one was particularly ambitious.
It did not take long to learn that there were a few things that I had not thought to include in my financial calculations. Things like soap, bus tickets, and most importantly, water. It turns out that, when you spend all day outside in the summer heat, a certain amount of water is required to sustain life. And unlike in the Pacific Northwest where the water flows free and pure through the taps, Europe, in general, is not always consistent when it comes to water purity. So you have to buy bottled, which had never occurred to me.
Of course, water is not so expensive, but when you’ve allocated nothing for it any price is too high. But luckily for me, fortune favored the unprepared, because of one thing Europe has that America does not:
(At least to the same degree.) And as this was also an era before the rampant use of smartphones with google translate, it took some trial and error before our little cohort of Americans had determined which of the 1.5-liter bottles contained regular water and which of the bottles did not. It became a common refrain as we sampled our purchases for at least a few of our group to recoil in horror at having discovered that they had bought the wrong water. Because no normal Americans drank carbonated water – not when you could have soda.
And so, in disgust, my friends would return to the store to get the right water. And I would take the rejects. And at first, I just made do – beggars can’t be choosers, after all. I drank the horrible, gassy water and reminded myself of the money I was saving. And it took some time but over the course of the month, I actually began to develop a taste for it. Pretty soon I even found myself buying the wrong water on purpose. And before long it became a point of pride. I began to feel very cosmopolitan and returned to the US ready to show off my pretentious new food preferences in the most obnoxious was possible. I’ll have a sparkling water, please.
But within a few months, soda streams, arrowhead waters, and fancy La Croixs flooded the US market and the old American distaste for carbonated water all but disappeared. Turns out I was not the only one to get the memo.