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Gap Year Abroad

« ::Tu Eres Como mi Nieta:: | Main | October 19, 2012 »


::The Other Universal Language: Food::

CLIC (Centro de Lenguas e Intercambio Culturales) is a haven for international students. At one point in time, you can be sure that in CLICs three buildings, a student represents nearly every nationality on the planet.

I am in Aula 3, and my class (as of last week) consisted of Swede, two Koreans, and five Americans. In my five weeks of class, I have been in class with a Swiss, two Italians, a Hungarian, a Scot, a German, and a few other Americans. My friend Ellika (the Swede) had been with us for a month, but today was her last day, so we decided to celebrate by having our own international day.

We came to class and promptly went to the Corte Ingles (the local "everything" store - it's like a mix between a supermarket, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Macys) to buy our ingredients. Our food? Puppy Chow and Kimpab.

Quick Quiz: True/False: It is harder to find ingredients for Puppy Chow than for Kimpab.

For all you non-Koreans, Kimpab is essentially a korean style of sushi, without raw fish, made with seaweed, rice, carrots, cucumber, sesame oil, something that I didn't know the name of, eggs, cheese, tuna, ham, and something else that I didn't recognize. For all you other people (Americans: you should know this!) Puppy chow is a traditional Christmas (or any other time you crave it) snack/dessert, made from Chex Cereal, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Powdered Sugar.

Believe it or not... We could not find Chex, Crispix, or anything else that even resembled the little rice waffles. So we substituted bran flakes and some cereal like Mini Wheats. Spaniards (and Europeans in general) don't eat peanut butter (that's what Nutella is for!) so we found exactly one brand of peanut butter in the grocery store. Powdered sugar was another adventure - because the "Azucar Glass" was in a separate section from the regular "Azucar." And the chocolate? We bought a few bars of melting chocolate because chocolate chips don't exist here either.

So the answer to our little quiz? TRUE.

We went up to CLICs kitchen, my American friend Alex turned up the volume some tunes, and we all had a blast preparing our food together. This is one of the things I appreciate the most about my classes here in Spain - even though most of us speak different native languages, we can share and enjoy experiences together because we all speak spanish.

Next to Math, Food seems to be the next universal language. I am now a Kimpab convert, and our Korean friends snagged the Puppy Chow recipe that we converted into Spanish. International day? Success :)

FUTURE STUDY ABROAD STUDENTS: Before coming to Spain, I thought that it would be fun to make some traditional american food for my host family... but I hadn't realized how hard it would be to find the simple ingredients. Dont get me wrong! The grocery stores have nearly everything you want! But if you want to make chocolate chip cookies, bring chocolate chips from the United States. If you want to eat peanut butter, bring some with you. That might seem counter-intuitive, because both of those weigh down your suitcase - but when it's time to return home, you will be glad that you have the extra weight/space in your suitcase. ALSO: While we're on the subject of stuff from home: bring your own razors! They are INCREDIBLY expensive here!


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