A Day in a Cafe

As I walked down North Parade street in Oxford I found a little cafe to go do some work. When I walked in I was greeted with the sound of Irish folk music, and the chattering workers. They sold many different types of cupcakes, pastries, breads, and drinks. I ordered myself a cup of English breakfast with milk and sugar, and a chocolate cruffin (a croissant in a muffin form). I decided to sit down to the left next to the counter. A man wearing a Ralph Lauren polo sat across from me, he seemed to be finishing up a business call. He was trying his best to be quiet. There was a lady with red hair to my right who seemed to be a millennial, she was reading a book. After a while they both left and more people came in. There was this quiet lady with a yellow backpack that came in, she ordered tea and read a book in the corner right side. She may have been a grad student. 

When my tea came, I had a teapot and could pour it into my cup. As I sipped my tea I started to get some work done, I spent most of my time working on upcoming projects. Sitting in this small cafe I could look out the large window as I watched people walk by. I became a spectator of others’ lives, I was a fleeting memory for those who walked past me. I enjoyed being able to observe what others did, I watched as three high school students tried to figure out what they wanted. I watched two Gen Z American friends come in together and work on their computers. Throughout the time I sat and observed people I found that it was peaceful to watch people and not think about my own life. I could sit and wonder what the people I watched live could be. I thought maybe the man who came in and ordered a latte could be on his lunch break from his job, or he could be a grad student at Oxford grabbing a coffee for a pick me up. 

Another thing I started doing during the few hours I sat in this cafe, was to distinguish the people who came in by what generation they could be. I saw many Gen Z come in as this cafe is close to Jericho, a popular area in Oxford with students. There were the two Gen Z girls who were friends catching up, one with mousy brown hair and one with red hair. I could also tell many of the people were Gen Z because a lot of them would wear these Oxford puffers, the ones with their college crests. Most of the Gen Z who came into the cafe were there to get some work done in a relaxed environment, with others doing the same as them. I also saw a lot of millennials come into the cafe as well. I could tell that they were millennials because they often dressed in clothes that were in style ten years ago. They weren’t there to get work done, they just read their books and hung around. Though there weren’t many, there were also some baby boomers who came in, just like the older man who ordered a latte and sat next to me and read his book quietly. Through my observation, I found that there were not a lot of baby boomers who came in. Only one or two came in from what I saw, but I could tell what generation they were mostly from their actions. They were a bit slower and ordered less frilly drinks. The boomers were the type of people to just stare at you while you were trying to do something. They never seemed pleased about how anything was being done or by the people around them. Another generation that came in was Gen X. One was a man who might have owned the cafe, he came in and out to bring things to the worker. There was also the man with the green puffer jacket who ordered two savory Swiss rolls and then just left. They both seemed to be moving so fast and working so hard but at the same time doing nothing. I almost saw all of the current generation during my time in the cafe. I mostly observed Gen Z and millennials, the other generations didn’t come into the cafe as much. 

Sitting in this cafe I learned and participated in the large culture of cafe working, which is fairly popular with students. There is a sense of collectiveness as many students work on schoolwork together. I was able to see a new side of life in Oxford from a local perspective and take part in it myself. I was also able to learn and observe about people in Oxford.

Amelia S is studying Studio Art concentration Graphic Design and is studying abroad at St Clare’s Oxford.

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