Living abroad is an adventure. While the majority of the time involves making new friends and overcoming everyday challenges, I've realized that there are certain circumstances that are just plain difficult and can make you want to forget about your amazing travel plans and buy that one-way ticket home:
- Being Sick. Getting sick abroad is the worst. It doesn't seem to matter if it's an awful stomach parasite, a skin infection (that I was convinced was a bot fly!), or just the common cold. You lack the comfort of home and have to deal with the issue on your own. In a foreign country. With different health care and prescription policies. No fun.
- Technology Problems. While you may say that you could live in a remote village without wifi or cell signals no problem, I guarantee you still have some technology addiction. Whether it be your camera, Macbook, iPod, etc. There is something. And when it breaks, or is stolen, or falls in the river, you feel a little lost. Repair shops might not be as accessible (especially if you're in that remote village) and the funds may not be there to buy a replacement. So you're left without the comfort of your familiar iTunes library, or easy communication back home, or camera, or Instagram, or Candy Crush... Whatever it is! Technology issues just aren't as easy to cope with abroad.
- Holidays. Now, this one is self-explanatory. Holidays, especially winter ones, are to be spent surrounded by family and celebrating those once-a-year traditions. These days abroad are when homesickness and loneliness can strike hard.
This past week I struggled with all three of these situations. First, an iPhone with a crashed hard-drive that is now wrapped in a sock inside of an envelope on it's way back to The States. Then, I contracted a nasty cold. And prepared to celebrate my third Thanksgiving abroad.
Luckily, I had plans for not only one, but two Thanksgiving dinners in Madrid.
Typical me, I planned to bring a dish that was a little more complicated and didn't come from a box or can. I found this recipe for a healthy, vegan, butternut squash and brussels sprout stuffing and decided to give it a go. I failed to consider the fact that my apartment has no oven, but only a small toaster oven. So after making a huge mess and tweaking the recipe to combine microwaving, sautéing and toaster-oven baking, the stuffing came out great for a dinner with a fun group of (American, Canadian, Scottish and Spanish) friends. You may recognize a few faces from here.
The following night, I reheated my second batch of stuffing and headed out for a very international Thanksgiving dinner.
I met this group of people early on in Madrid as we formed a pick-up soccer league. We're a mix of students, teachers, and professionals from all over the world and each week I look forward to seeing them for some friendly fútbol.
It was nice to ditch the cleats for some turkey and wine.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving with family and/or friends! And now it's officially allowed…Feliz Navidad!