On January 13th I lugged two bulky suitcases and my cheetah Steve Madden carry-on down a JFK terminal with Al and Anne. Hyped, we hustled our way onto a plane and geared up for an eight-hour Iberia plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean.
After tossing and turning, a little movie watching and airplane TV gaming, & being asked “¿pollo o carne?” for dinner, we finally landed.
We touched down in the amazing, lively, culture-enthused city of Madrid, where we’d be staying until May!
We breezed through Customs and Student Visa Check but then had to wait three hours for our school to organize and get us -_-
When I studied abroad this past spring semester I was opened up to many new things. I learned time management, some Spanish, how to really interact with a community & to submerge myself in new culture. I became much more independent & was able to handle tough situations better than before.
My study abroad experience wasn’t the normal fairytale study abroad that most people had. In Spain my friends & I dealt with countless hospital visits, credit card hacking, broken laptops, deaths, theft and many more real life problems. BUT besides all that, we had a blast and were able to go to so many cities & countries.
In addition to Spain teaching me how to deal with adulthood it taught me to be less of a picky eater.
Between Anne saying picky eaters are an inconvenience and immature, & there being no option besides to eat what you ordered, my taste buds learned to welcome anything on top of them.
College itself made my grow up and be less of a picky eater. I was picky in the sense that’d I’d try most foods, but with a negative attitude, so I’d bite into it telling myself I wasn’t gonna like it. I mean that is better than not willing to try anything but it still was a pain for my mom when it came to dinner time. I will admit though, I was a brat about food touching each other on the plate until about sophomore year of high school. I overcame people eating off my plate right around the same time. Up until then, if someone put their fork near my plate I wouldn’t continue to eat it. Now I share bites & sips like it’s nobody’s business but idk which is worse.
My other problem with food is that I love sweets & snacks more than meals, and I’ve never been meat’s biggest fan.
When my mom would tell me we were having “Breakfast for dinner” I’d be relieved. One less meal to gnaw at. Or like I’d rather eat the rice & broccoli than the chicken it came with. All about the sides. I could eat a box of Cheez-Its for dinner and be more happy about that than a juicy prime rib.
I’d say the first month or so that we were in Spain we didn’t know how to comprehend the menus. We didn’t have any way of translating them since we usually kept our phones at home/there was no Wi-Fi. So our meals were mystery meals.
I remember the very first day my three roommates and I ate out. We were in an instant reality check that we needed to know a lot more Spanish than we did…
We ordered 4 different meals and were all 100% clueless as to what we were getting. I ended up with a mayo, tuna sandwich with hardboiled eggs crumpled on it. What a nightmare, I’ve only had mayo if it was blended in a dip, I do not like the smell of seafood & I haven’t eaten an egg on its own since I was 10.
Anne ate my meal for me that day but we didn’t even trade plates because she got (what we think was) pulled pork soup & when she gave it its first stir a fried egg floated to the top.
One of the funkiest foods I tried in Spain was kangaroo.
When my cousin Jess and her bf Jim came to visit me, we went to a meat-lovers restaurant called La Jauria, which means The Pack. There we got Kangaroo Kabobs & Oxtail Raviolis. Honestly, the kangaroo was good. It was very rare and served almost cold, it tasted just like steak to me. The Oxtail Raviolis though weren’t too yummy. I didn’t enjoy the shredded meat or the thin shells they were in. The texture threw me off more than the flavor itself.
Another not so common food I had in Spain is octopus ink.
Sarah ordered chicken and rice at a restaurant when we were touring the Cantabria/Basque Country regions of Spain. The rice she received acted as a trench to keep the octopus ink in. Maybe this is a better vision… Imagine chocolate lava cake. The ink being the lava inside. Except, don’t forget it’s black with dark greenish purple hues to it. Also keep in mind the octopus ink has a completely different smell than warm chocolate fudge. I was not pleased by the fork-dipped amount of ink that I had. It tasted kind of like the smell of the ocean and left a bitter aftertaste. It didn’t taste anymore appealing when abdorbed by rice either.
This one is no big deal but I tried cod for my first time it Spain. We toured the Extremadura region of Spain with our school and they took us to an elegant dinner. The restaurant was decorated well, there was endless fresh warm bread, very comforting staff, at least 6 courses! I think the meal truly took over three hours! P.S. Spain eats dinner at 9, the earliest. We didn’t walk out of there till past midnight.
Besides cod, one of the other courses at this fancy dinner was GOOSE LIVER
The goose liver was presented on top of a “salad”. The salad though was so salty and bitter, it was actually unpalatable. The liver silvered off, looking like a was peeled from an ice cream scooper. The whole thing was very slimy and salty. Anne didn’t even eat it.
I could go on and on about all the different meats and vegetables I had en España but I think you’re getting the point; Spain let so many new things enter my vision and my tummy.
The four months abroad I lived the true city that never sleeps, Madrid, I saw and tried many new things that home just doesn’t offer. When I bounced around western Europe with my student visa, it enhanced my experience & helped make more well-rounded. My time overseas was well spent & has left my hungry for more cultural exposure.