Sisters, Friends, and Study Abroad

I think I made what is to be one of my favorite college memories last night. It was one of those moments when you can step out of yourself and say “This. This is what I’m living for. And I don’t want it to end.” Of course it does, but now you have a snapshot of that one particular moment with that one particular set of feelings and that one particular smile of pure contentment playing on your lips.

Before I tell you what it was that had me loving life, I should probably give you some context before you think all I do is cook and partake in other house-wifey duties. I should also mention that this relates to my future plans for next year.

I know I’ve written that I have a sister, Curran, but I don’t think you know much more other than there’s 13 years between us and she is now raising a beautiful family with her husband Tim in Massachusetts. I didn’t get to visit her very frequently during high school, and I get to even less now that I’m in Maryland. However, since starting college, I’ve begun the practice of visiting her for about a week in the summer and winter. Those visits are truly a change of scene that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

In the winter we sit in front of a crackling fire and sip hot cider while reading books after the kids have gone to bed. In the summer we go to children’s museums in the day and concerts in the park at night. But no matter the season we always cook together. Curran has her own garden and a farm share to supply fresh vegetables and herbs; I swear it tastes different from what you buy in the store. When we start a recipe from her arsenal of cookbooks, I always end up learning something new about the art of cooking. From a faster way to chop onions to the proper order of making pesto, she makes these lessons family memories.

This is due in part to the conversations we have and the music we listen to, but the best thing we share during these bonding sessions is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s something that has become a family past time. As we mince garlic and wash lettuce, we try to guess the Listener Limerick and always have a good laugh when Paula Poundstone is on the show.

And as of last night, I was able to share this experience with my roommate Erin. After an exhausting week we wanted to keep our Friday night relaxing, so I made homemade spaghetti sauce with fettuccine for dinner. Instead of playing my usual cooking playlist and dancing along, or Erin watching Doctor Who in our bedroom, we enjoyed each others’ company in the kitchen. And listened to Wait Wait.

As I stirred the sauce, I looked over to see Erin laughing at Peter Sagal’s commentary while playing her 3DS, the warm light creating a comforting glow, and our future dinner filling the room with a tantalizing aroma. That’s when it happened. That moment of happiness: a sense of belonging based on the trust of friendship and the sharing of interests.

Now, as to how this could possibly have anything to do with my future plans, well…next semester Erin and I are embarking on an adventure. We’ll be leaving family and friends (though I’m sure we’ll make some new ones) to study abroad in Cork, Ireland! We’ve agreed not to be direct roommates for that time, but it’s reassuring to know she’ll still be there with me. To say I’m excited to share new experiences and make new memories would be the biggest understatement of the year. I am beyond excited.

I am impassioned, thrilled, wild, ecstatic; basically every possible adjective that could express happiness at this wonderful opportunity to learn about a new culture and make some amazing memories with one of my good friends.

Defeating the Escape Artist in Us All

I think one of the most common questions a college student hears after “What’s your major?” is “What do you do for fun?” Which, when you think about it, can sometimes be difficult to answer.

Not because all college students partake in nefarious activities (that’s an overstatement), but because “fun” is a relative term. Some of my friends consider a fun time to be vegging out all weekend and cramming in homework Sunday night, while others have more energetic (albeit tiring) activities throughout the weekend.

One thing is for certain though. If you live in Baltimore, there is always something to do. There may not be as many activities on campus, but Loyola definitely isn’t a suitcase school.

Take last weekend for example. My Italian professor invited his different classes over to his house for dinner. We met his family, he made pizza (by made, I mean tossing the dough and all that jazz) and we got to hang out in a new environment. The food and company was fantastic! If a professor ever offers some sort of food, take the opportunity to spend time with them and see them outside the classroom. It’s worth it, if not only for the free meal!

I spent Saturday afternoon at a meeting with friends, then went to the Towson Mall with my roommates and had a wonderful dinner at Pho Danh Than, a Vietnamese restaurant in Towson. We blazed a trail through the slushy streets and icy sidewalks to warm up with Goi Cuon Thit Nuóng, pork summer rolls, and Bún Gà Nuróng Xa, a vermicelli dish with bean sprouts, lemon grass chicken, and a spicy/sweet sauce on the side.

Summer Pork Roll Vermicelli

The next day was the Super Bowl and you’d be fool if you didn’t get a tiny bit excited, even if it’s only for the the commercials! Honestly, my roommates and I aren’t big football people, but it was really exciting to hear the celebrations across campus after the Ravens won. We also had a fantastic spread of food!

Homemade Hummus

I made hummus!

Edmame

We also made pizza and fries to balance out the "healthy" food.

If going off campus isn’t your thing, during the week there’s a fair amount of special lectures, club meetings, sports, and of course downtime with friends. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is always good during the week!

Knitting Club
A lively meeting of the Knifty Knitters

Of course, if you decide to go back home for the weekend to “escape” school, you miss out on a lot of cool experiences that are unique to the Loyola campus/area.

My friend Mary alerted my roommates and me to a pottery place in Mt. Washington, which is just a short drive away from campus, so off we went Friday night (once again through the rain and wet) to spend a few relaxing hours painting and nattering away.

MaryErinTeapot

Later that evening, I spent some time at the studio working on intaglio prints while Erin and our friend Connor knitted and kept me company. The following day our group of friends spent another large chunk of time together celebrating Erin’s birthday with food, cake, and watching Across the Universe and The Princess Bride.

You’d think I’d had enough social interaction by now. But to be honest, it’s what I live for. I love being on a campus where I can say my dorm is my home, my friends are my family, and the time I spend with them on the weekends is my “escape” from school while still staying on campus.