What is that? Food? By Liz Lynch-Gadaleta

Hi! I’m Liz Lynch-Gadaleta, a Sophomore going on the Trujillo Spain Program this spring. I’m a History and International Studies double major with a concentration in Europe and a minor in Spanish. I chose this program because studying abroad in Spain is something I have talked about doing for as long as I can remember and this program was the perfect fit for me to be able to finish my minor while immersed in a small, medieval town. While abroad I am hoping to become more culturally conscious and eat a lot of food! I feel I have a strong foundation in spanish, and hope that living with a host family and in a small town will allow my skills to increase. I haven’t done much research about my host country, but I can’t wait to go!

Moving to a new country, a new culture, and a new language is a transition that is tough to describe in words. When I first got to Spain, I was nervous and literally felt all the Spanish I knew leave my body. I got in the car with my host mom and went home, but was petrified about what lay ahead. Then, I unpacked and sat down at lunch, and was confronted with another issue: what in the world was I about to eat? The question of what was on my plate was something that persisted the whole time I was abroad, but I learned one key element: ask AFTER you eat. Sometimes, you can’t avoid knowing: my host mom almost always had a little story to go with the dish I was eating, why she made it, and why she thought I needed to try it. I’m not saying not to ask what you’re eating until later out of fear, rather the opposite: the sooner I tried something, the sooner I knew whether or not I liked it, and then it mattered significantly less what it was because it was good and I was already eating it. (The only thing this didn’t apply to was the bull I tried on my first afternoon, not that it was bad, but it wasn’t my favorite, as I told my host mom.) Some things you’ll start to like while you’re there, things that you never in your life thought you would like so much. My host mom, for example, made the most amazing lentils and chorizo I have ever had but before I went abroad, I had never eaten lentils and really did not like chorizo. I ended up having lentils as my last meal. There are also things that you really can only get while you’re there: majestic tasting coffee, pastries beyond your wildest dreams, paella fresh out of the pan (or brought out IN the pan!), and, my personal favorite, tortilla de patatas. Lastly, despite all the things that are unfamiliar, there are moments that will bring some solace of home. I ate at McDonald’s in every country I went to, tried something unique to each country, and got a Happy Meal to top it off! Even when you least expect it, the feeling of home will be there. The first lunch I ate tasted like chicken noodle soup, it really wasn’t (and it later included the aforementioned bull) but I was fresh off the plane and nervous when I sat down to what I consider the superior version of chicken soup. That is the moment I knew that, no matter what happened, I was going to be okay in Spain. Food provides connections unlike anything else, and all the foods I got to try are some of my favorite memories of studying abroad. Take advantage, and eat up!

PS: Don’t eat the oranges off the trees in the street! They are SO sour!

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