Tag Archives: homesickness

The Soft Pretzel That Brought Me To Tears: A Tragedy

Standard

Kia ora, friends- hello from beautiful, cold, and rainy Dunedin, New Zealand! This past weekend marked my one-month anniversary of arriving at the University of Otago, where I will be studying for the next three months. After several disastrous attempts to locate my classes during the first week, one awful bout of the flu, and much exploration of the Dunedin area, I finally feel (relatively) settled in here.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting human phenomena is memory through smell. Everyone should understand what this means: you’re casually minding your own business and enjoying your day when suddenly you’re hit with a smell (sometimes great, sometimes terrible) that reminds you of an incredibly specific occasion. Interestingly, I haven’t been experiencing homesickness in New Zealand, unless I suddenly catch a whiff of a Philadelphia-esque scent. This probably sounds bizarre, but it’s true! Here are a few scent-induced episodes of homesickness that I’ve encountered in Kiwiland:

  1. Homesickness by pretzel: a few days ago, I was on a hiking trip in Queenstown, a popular skiing village in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island. After a long day of trekking, I stopped in a bakery with a few friends to peruse the treats available and came across a beautiful SOFT PRETZEL! In all honesty, it was a lame soft pretzel compared to some of the luscious, salty, Philly-style ones at home, but it still had that incredible, pretzel-y smell that we Philadelphians adore so much. Oddly, the pretzel scent immediately caused me to recall happy memories from home and my eyes started to well up. I looked like an absolute freak and may have scared some small children out of the shop.
  2. Homesickness by melted cheese: back home, my all-time favorite Philadelphia restaurant is Parc, a French-Belgian eatery located on Rittenhouse Square. Without a doubt, the best dish there is French onion soup, which is loaded with layers of delicious, melted gruyere cheese. Last week, my flatmates and I decided to have a flat dinner of shepherd’s pie (a very common Kiwi meal), which consists of mince (ground beef), cheese, potato, and other yummy items baked in a large pan. After the shepherd’s pie came out of the oven, the layer of cheese baked onto the top smelled exactly the cheese in Parc’s soup and gave me some very nostalgic vibes.
  3. Homesickness by old books: one of my favorite childhood memories is accompanying my Dad to lots of local Philadelphia thrift shops to hunt for books and cool art. The smell associated with this experience is not particularly pleasant- it’s a combination of moldy paper, dust, and general mustiness. During my art history class this morning, we visited the Hocken Collection at the University of Otago, where many old books, paintings, and illustrations are housed. As soon as I caught a whiff of that musty old book scent, I immediately thought about my dad and started to feel pretty down.

Luckily, there are several things that I’ve discovered in New Zealand that remind me of how much I love my new home and help to reduce any homesickness I experience! Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Pineapple lumps. By far the best New Zealand candy that I have discovered so far! These consist of squishy, pineapple-flavored marshmallow coated in a thin layer of milk chocolate. Be warned Americans- most of my friends from the US who have also tried pineapple lumps think that they’re disgusting. I, however, strongly disagree!
  2. Ravensbourne track. This is a small running/walking/biking track a mile from my flat in Dunedin. It runs about 10 km down the Otago coastline, is generally empty, and has incredible views of the Otago harbor. When I run here, I feel like I am basically in a Baby Einstein “ocean sounds” video- nothing is more soothing than fresh breeze and flowing water!
  3. Ginger slice. Right by the old Dunedin railway station, there is an awesome coffee shop called “Morning Magpie” that sells all sorts of tasty coffees and pastries. However, my total favorite pastry to buy is the “ginger slice,” which is a thick, cookie base covered in ginger cream and topped with crystallized ginger chunks. Something that I definitely want to incorporate into my US snacking habits is ginger! Why don’t Americans eat more ginger?!

Although this blog post has taken several unusual turns (tears by pretzel; Baby Einstein), the general message rings true: study abroad, while filled with many excellent moments, also has its fair share of unpleasant incidents, including illness and homesickness. There was one day last week that I couldn’t drag myself out of bed because I was missing my family so much. However, these incidents are most definitely outweighed by the day-to-day discoveries and excitement that I encounter in New Zealand.

IMG_3853.JPG

Enjoying a caramel slice (the cousin of ginger slice) at Morning Magpie.

“It’s about that time”

Standard

I’ve reached a point in the semester that I find some study abroad students referring to as “it’s about that time.” “It’s about that time” when it’s a little over a month into the semester and midterms are coming up, so the inevitable stress kicks in and everything that used to be fun and adventurous becomes stressful as well; you realize your family and friends are not exactly what you would call “right by your side” and the thought of that stresses you out; and also, it’s getting cold! To precisely define this time, it’s basically homesickness. My remedy? Parks and phone calls! If my professors decide that they all want to have midterms on the same day, I will find a nice park, ease myself through nature and study. Luckily, Madrid makes that very easy!

It’s times like these when I thank god for making me wanderlust…….. and for the Internet. Over the past month, I have run into a couple parks or green areas where I thought to myself “I can come here and study” and the time has come. Last week, a couple days before my first midterm, I needed somewhere to study and my super blue room was not helping me with staying focused so I went to Canal De Isabel II (or sometimes known as Parque Santander). This park has a big golf area in the middle, a track that goes around it for those who want to run, a beautiful area with fountains and a nice, quite area with benches, which is where you’ll find me most of the time. I was definitely able to get some studying done in peace without feeling suffocated in a room.

Canal De Isabel II

Canal De Isabel II

Canal De Isabel II

Canal De Isabel II

Canal De Isabel II

Canal De Isabel II

So after the success of my first park study session, I googled the next closest park to my house, which was Parque del Oeste, so I packed my bag, popped the address into Google maps and headed out there. It was about a 20-minute walk from my house and it did not disappoint. This one is less recreational so there is a large grass area with trees where people sit and have picnics. If you go deeper, it seems endless, so I had to remind myself I was there to study—I took a seat and got to work! I saw an ad for a cable car ride from Parque del Oeste to Casa de Campo (another huge park), so I will definitely be going back there soon!

Parque Del Oeste

Parque Del Oeste

Parque Del Oeste

Parque Del Oeste

 

Parque Del Oeste

Parque Del Oeste

Unfortunately, it is getting colder by the day now so I have had to move my outdoor study adventures indoors. I am starting to explore the hundreds of cafes in Madrid now. My favorites so far are La Rollerie and Monkee Koffee. They’re both small, cozy cafes tucked in between small shops on my way to school. For all of you tea lovers out there, these are the type of places to keep an eye out for! I stop at one of these two after school or the gym to enjoy the calm atmosphere and have some tea!

 

La Rollerie

Tea time! (La Rollerie)

Homesickness is expected when studying abroad so when it comes, finding the right way to deal with it is important. For me, just a phone call to my parents and a reminder of why I chose to study abroad in the first place is enough to bring me back to reality. If that doesn’t help, I look back at the past month of my life and think of the incredible experience I have had and amazing people I’ve met, and that gets me as excited as the first day I arrived in Madrid!