Fight Homesickness with Home Cooked Meals
At some point during your time abroad, you will feel culture shock from stepping outside your comfort zone or that suspicious knot in your stomach as you long for the comforts of home. This feeling can range from overwhelming to only a minor inconvenience. In my case, it was a slight inconvenience that went away easily with food— specifically, home-cooked food. No matter where you travel, study, or intern abroad, a home-cooked meal is universal, and it certainly brings feelings of happiness to whoever shares the meal. Hence, my advice is that don’t decline the chance to share a meal to feel at home!
There is something special about sharing food with a local that brings a smile to my face. In the “Land of Smiles,” there is nothing quite like the smile of a Thai host when you take a bite of their home-cooked meal. “อร่อยไหม (Is it delicious)?” they ask. “อร่อย (delicious)!” you reply. The food your host has prepared is delicious with the saltiness of the fish sauce and the sweetness of palm sugar. Two home-cooked flavors that bring a smile to face and expel the feeling of culture shock.
Food as a bridge of connection
Luckily, I’ve been invited to dine several times at the homes of local Thai people. Once in a student dorm and another time in the home of one of the local clinic nurses. It’s always a little nerve-wracking stepping into someone else’s home when you speak so little of their native language, but there is one thing all persons share in common: a love of food. Food bridges the gap between foreign persons.
During my internship in Thailand, I chose to live at a homestay. Every day for breakfast and dinner, I would share a meal with my wonderful host. Together, she would teach me fun, new Thai words, and I would tell her all about my adventures in Chiang Mai. It was easy to have a fun time in the relaxed setting of a kitchen.
Warm sunlight streaming through the windows, a smile on the face of the person sitting across from me, and delicious food in front of me made for a wonderful situation.
Don’t decline the chance to share a meal to feel at home
Considering how sharing a meal with others relaxed me during my time abroad, I would encourage you to do the same. Talk to as many local people as you can, and make friends. Before you know it, you may be invited to dine with someone. In short, if you get the chance to dine with Thai people, do it. You are likely to feel a little more at home.
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