Hello all! This week I wanted to write a bit more about food (of course) and also talk a little about homesickness abroad. I hope it’s somewhat interesting and enlightening for you all – no promises, though.
This week’s culinary highlight was a superb rice, squid ink, and seafood dish courtesy of Josefina. Lunches here typically happen around 2:30; when Cedric and I arrived back from class around 2, we immediately noticed a delightfully pungent seafood smell emanating from the kitchen and knew we were in for a treat. The dish was quite lovely and very rich; if I remember correctly, the seafood interspersed within the rice included shrimp, octopus, and mussels. I wolfed down my heaping first plate and immediately grabbed seconds; Cedric followed suit. After Cedric had grabbed his second helping, Josefina walked over to the pot and noticed that there was still a bit of food left. She immediately returned to the table, raised her eyebrows at me, and, in a commanding tone of voice, informed me that there was more. Naturally, I immediately scurried over to do my sacred culinary duty – I scraped the pot clean.
Unfortunately, this magnificent feast happened to coincide with my weekly tennis practice, a rather regrettable coincidence. My bulging belly certainly did me no favors on the tennis court and made the prospect of tracking down far-flung tennis balls distinctly unappealing. We also ran some sprints after practice and I was most grateful that my massive meal didn’t end up making a second appearance.
In case you’re reading this blog as a prospective study abroad student, I also want to touch on a topic that I think is important in relation to studying in a foreign country: homesickness. Am I homesick? Absolutely. Has that sentiment impeded my ability to thrive here and enjoy much of what this city (and country) has to offer? Absolutely not. Of course, there are good days and bad days here; there are days when attempting to communicate in a foreign language with professors and my homestay family feels like an insurmountable barrier. But there are also days filled with unexpected language breakthroughs and enjoyable moments – for me, one of those moments was an extended conversation with an elderly Spanish gentleman at my gym who told me about his career as a cardiologist, his battle with cancer, and his family. We also talked about our shared love of California – Sequoia National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge are special places for both of us.
In a weird sense, I actually feel lucky to be homesick. My immediate and extended family includes some uncommonly amazing people who I feel lucky to have in my life. I also have an incredible and close-knit group of friends, both in Pasadena and Walla Walla, and I really miss seeing them every day. They’re all pretty great and if I didn’t miss them, something would probably be wrong with me. On that cheery note, adios!
This is the cathedral/mosque of Córdoba – we visited it yesterday. It’s architecturally stunning; essentially, the Christians decided to assert their religious dominance by constructing a massive church in the middle of a mosque. But instead of demolishing the mosque (which would have been typical), they retained much of it and plopped their cathedral in the middle of it. In this photo the lower part (striped arches) were formerly part of the mosque. The rest of the photo (windows, ceiling, etc.) is of the Christian changes made to the mosque in order to fashion it into a cathedral.
This stunningly beautiful picture is from a hike I did this morning in our local Sierra Nevada mountains. I had to wake up at the crack of dawn in order to be back home in time for lunch, but it was very much worth it. I do love my solitary nature walks!