Growing up, my family valued dinner time. Even though we were extremely busy we always ate dinner together. The significance of family dinner time wasn’t in the food itself but in the action of sharing news, stories, feelings, etc. When you leave home to go to college, or even to study abroad, you don’t really think about how much you will miss a home cooked meal shared with your family.
After being here in Siena, Italy I realized a few things. One, all I know how to make for dinner is pasta and jarred sauce. Trust me, just plain pasta every day can get old very quickly. Two, I missed eating dinner with other people, enjoying their company. So when all seven of us in the IES Abroad program here in Siena decided to make homemade pasta together, I was excited. I would finally learn how to make real pasta and sauce with fresh ingredients. But more importantly, I would get to have that family dinner I was craving.
The pasta making process took three days total. On the first day, we made the dough. We combined egg and flour to make our perfect dough balls. We even named our “dough babies” Carl and Phil. On the second day, we used a pasta maker to roll out the dough balls and cut them to make our fettuccine. We let the fettuccine dry overnight so they would be ready for our big family meal. On the third day, we came together to make fresh tomato sauce, garlic bread, sausage, roasted broccoli, and a Nutella cake. My favorite part of the whole process was making the tomato sauce. Nothing compares to a fresh, homemade sauce that has been simmering for hours, making the house smell incredible. I am so excited to bring my pasta and sauce making skills back to the U.S.
Even though making this meal with my friends was fun and a cultural experience, most importantly I got to share a home cooked meal with amazing people. When I first saw that there were only seven people on my program in Siena, I was a little worried. I had gone to large schools my whole life, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy being with just six other people. After a few weeks I came to realize that even though all seven of us are extremely different people, we all bring something to the table. We may debate and argue with each other for pointless reasons, but at the end of the day we can come together for a family meal and have an incredible time together.
Sitting with these people at dinner made me realize a few things. Family comes in different forms. I miss my family dearly, but here in Siena, the six others in my program are my family. In a short amount of time we have learned all about each other, and have learned to appreciate each other’s differences. It’s not perfect all the time, but real families aren’t always perfect either. But in the moments when these six friends of mine make me laugh until I cry, it’s clear to me that they are my family. They are my study abroad family. I’m sharing a unique, once in a lifetime experience with them. And truthfully, I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to travel the world with.
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<p>I'm a sophomore from George Washington University majoring in Communications and minoring in Italian and Journalism. I love traveling, art, and food. I am so excited to share my experiences with you, especially my quest for the best bread in Italy.</p>