On Feeling Worldly

I’m officially starting to feel international. By this, I mean that the world seems both bigger and smaller than it did just a few months ago. Bigger, because I’m constantly learning new things about people and their perspectives. Smaller, because news of life and events in other countries doesn’t seem quite so remote and foreign anymore.

I had my first Chinese New Year celebration a few weeks ago, thanks to the initiative of a group of Singaporean friends. They cooked a fabulous hot pot, and about 20 of us—all with different nationalities—sat sat around a big table with forks and chopsticks poised for dunking fish balls, bok choy, mushrooms and sausage into a steaming pot of broth with goji berries. After saying grace in Mandarin (!), we discovered that there were too many of us to eat straight from the hot pot, so we ended up spooning the broth, meat and vegetables into individual bowls to eat, but I have come to love the spirit of community that accompanies Chinese cuisine: All eat from a single dish and freely share their food with one another. It’s a beautiful expression of friendship and familiarity, and we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent together.

I’ve also found myself becoming a bit more spontaneous since beginning my second term in England. Over breakfast one morning a few weeks back, a friend of mine asked if I had any interested in going to Morocco. Not knowing where Morocco was (my geography is pathetically horrendous, although rapidly improving since coming to the UK), I naturally responded in the affirmative: ‘Sure – let me know the details, and how much you think plane tickets might be’ (I am on a bit of a budget, after all!). About a week later, we found ourselves texting back-and-forth on Skype trying to find the perfect ticket until, finally, we booked a flight to Fez. This means my Spring break now consists of solo trips to Rome and Paris (where I will attempt to navigate through both cities with severely limited knowledge of French and Italian); Fez, Morocco (again, with no knowledge of French or, this time, Arabic); and the cities of York and Bath in England. Not only am I jumping over to the Continent from England, but I am jumping continents – and extremely excited at the prospect of doing so. I guess it’s proof that a trip abroad can lead you to places you never thought you’d see.

Of course, I am also sharing my own culture over here—namely, by creating Packer fans out of fellow international (non-U.S.) students. The American Football society at the University of Warwick hosted a Super Bowl party in the student union, so I attempted to explain the rules of the game to a few friends as we cheered the Packers onto victory together at 2 in the morning, England time (getting up the next morning was slightly painful, but oh so worth it). I have also introduced puppy chow to the UK and successfully gotten several people of various nationalities addicted to the chocolatey, peanut-buttery, sugary snack mix. This was one part accident, one part intentional—but it still came as a bit of a shock when I ran into a friend at the supermarket who said she was buying ingredients to make it herself. Tesco might have to start stocking more Shreddies cereal (the UK-version of Chex).

As a closing remark, I would like to thank God for the Gulf Stream. It’s fabulous. Even though England is just as far north as Wisconsin, we have had no Snowpocalypse thanks to this fabulous warm air current coming off the Atlantic. True, part of me deeply misses Wisconsin snow, but the other part of me simply cannot complain about the 45-50 degree weather we’ve had almost daily, the crocuses coming up on the lawn outside, and the fact that I can get overheated while running in a sweatshirt. We even had an ice cream truck drive down the central street of campus a few days ago blaring its midi music. Oh, so fabulous—Spring is in the air, and it’s only February!

And now … back to my Macbeth essay!