Once you’ve spent a semester or a year somewhere other than the Hilltop, that place becomes an influence on your Hoya experience and your development. Many beneficial experiences are attributed to study abroad, like meeting new people, trying something new and getting out of your comfort zone.
Being in Paris, France for a year, of course new food experiences come to mind as well. It might be cheesy, but memories are formed that stick with you, just like the sweet residue left on your fingers after inhaling a warm cinnamon bun on the winter streets of Copenhagen. How can you ever forget picking through your own vegetables at your farmers’ market down the street to make a soup for dinner the same day? How that tariflette weighed you down while warming you up? (Layers of potatoes, cream, reblochon cheese, and bacon pieces = heaven)
However, they aren’t the only things you can bring back with you. You can (and I will) bring some local produce back, like that bottle of sangria or the wheel of cheese sitting in your fridge, but since not everything travels well, here are a couple more options.
1. Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients!
Some of the best souvenirs are foods, spices, and other items that travel well but are hard to find at home. Just make sure the United States will allow your treats through its borders-sorry, Cuban cigars or fragrant mangosteens are not allowed, but there are still plenty of choices.
2. Bring back a cookbook.
Not only do they make great gifts or souvenirs, but when you start to miss the cuisine you sampled abroad, you have a guidebook right in front of you. It can help you put those ingredients to good use. Plus, the pictures are to die for.
And speaking of pictures…
3. Take and share pictures while abroad.
Sharing pictures is like taking your friends and family with you on your travels, and can become a physical memory itself. Every time you look at that picture of a sandwich jambon et gooey, melty fromage, you’ll be reminded of the time you walked a mile through Paris to get it.
4. Make a list.
Collect all the restaurants, cafés, dishes and drinks you try in a list. When paired with your edible photos, you can make a personalized guide of your city and the places you’ve visited – a guide that is just begging to be shared like that pizza between friends on the banks of the Loire.
5. Take a cooking class on local cuisine.
You’ll come back with some great skills and recipes, which should be shared with your host family (it would make for a great thank you gift) and your family and friends at home.
6. Be adventurous and create those memories!
I just tried snails. Being French, shame on me for not having eaten them earlier, but I got over my fear of them being slimy (they weren’t) and rubbery (just a little) when they were served smothered with butter and garlic. I might even order them again.