Coming to the end of my first year living in America as an international student, I couldn’t help but mull over all the things I’d be leaving behind when I return to my home country, The Bahamas. America, the land that, to me, seemed to have it all, is such a step up from what used to be my normal everyday life.

I was able to eat foods every day that before were only for special occasions, like pizza, chicken and fries, and burgers. To others that may not sound like much, but for me who only ever vacationed shortly in the U.S., it meant that my relationship with food would never be same again.

Of course, Bahamian food has no competitors.  Dishes like conch fritters, Grouper fingers, macaroni, and crab 'n dough are delicacies that can only be experienced on the islands.

pizza, salad
Alexis Ferguson

Though I do long for Caribbean home-cooked meals—perhaps my biggest driver in homesickness—I have no doubt that leaving the luxury of having vast and varied food options around every corner will have me longing to return in no time.

But the fast food options there, while sufficient, is nowhere near as vast and varied as in America. As the days in the semester grew fewer, the compulsive completionist within me set out on a mission to eat as many of my favorite “American” foods while I could still do so with convenience. 

There is no doubt that I’ve been thoroughly spoiled after my first year in college. I ate Pizza Hut pizzas, Chick-fil-A nuggets, and smoothies I had no idea I could get so addicted to.

pepper, cheese, vegetable, salad
Alexis Ferguson

Not to mention a Starbucks around every corner (there are at least four locations around campus). 

pizza, beer, tea
Alexis Ferguson

I had pasta, burgers, and every variation of sub shops nearby. I savored every moment, all while tearing up with my roommate that when I returned home, there’d be no more meal plans and no more delicious “free” campus food.

But when I pondered my dejection, I realized that I hadn’t always cherished the food that was so easily placed before me. Of course, at the beginning of my freshman year, when living in America and experiencing college life was still new and exciting, I held so much wonder for the abundance of food options within walking distance of my college. I never imagined a day where I would get bored of the food around me like I did back home.

At home, there is Burger King, Subway, Domino's Pizza, and a few others chains one could consider quite common in America. Only recently have we graciously received a Popeye's and Carl's Jr. to add some variety to our choices. Unfortunately, there isn't an IHOP, Panda Expresse, Chipotle, or Krispy Kreme—believe it or not.

America had those restaurants and others like Five Guys, Olive Garden, and Buffalo Wild Wings that weren’t anywhere near my country. The options seemed endless and expendable.

cheese, pasta, sauce
Alexis Ferguson

But before I knew it, much like many of my friends, my wide-eyed wonder ran out. I got used to the luxury, and at that point, I became bored with my surroundings again.

Nothing could ever be enough, and I began to wonder why that was. My roommate is a sweetheart, so after we were done sulking about what we’d miss when we went back home, we shared how thankful we were for nine months of awesome opportunities and wonderful meals that we had.

We realized we didn’t have to be sad about leaving campus life behind because we were going back home to our families. We had awesome freshman year memories to treasure, and a change of scenery.

Alexis Ferguson

I guess I accidentally stumbled upon a principle that made living life and experiencing moments much more fulfilling: a philosophy of thankfulness in change.

It's weird that my last college meals taught me that being grateful for the food we eat is not just a November thing. Imagine how much happier you can be in change when you stress less about what you’ll be missing and be grateful for the abundance you already had. Also, think on how many other great opportunities arise in change.

If you’re planning a trip, perhaps to the Caribbean (shameless self-plug), just imagine the flavor-filled spectacular time you’ll have. Or if you’re headed back home, look forward to home-cooked meals that you grew up loving. Even if you aren’t going anywhere that beckons your taste buds, take that time to relish that appreciation that change is giving you, and look forward—not backward—to new food frontiers that are waiting for you beyond the horizon.