This week, I'm back in class again after three whole weeks of time off. (Vive la France!) During the break, I met up with one of my best friends from UMass who's studying abroad in Seville, Spain. After touring Seville together, we visited Rome, then Malta (thanks for the suggestion, Marie!) and then Marseille, France. It was truly the opportunity of a lifetime, filled with plenty of sightseeing and more slices of pizza than I'd like to admit. But then, on our second-to-last day of traveling, something strange happened. As my friend and I sat down for dinner at a couscous restaurant in Marseille, I was very suddenly struck with homesickness and for the first time since I've been abroad.
After more than two weeks of crisscrossing borders on bus rides and early morning RyanAir flights, after filling my phone's storage with pictures and finding little souvenirs for my grandmother and parents, it felt only natural to be returning home. A wonderful trip has come to a close; time to get back home to real life, I thought. And it suddenly hit me on that second-to-last night that I wouldn't be returning home for another three months.
There are parts of studying abroad that feel a little bit like freshman year, round two. It's new and exciting and unlike anything you've experienced before, but at times you just really miss the familiar. And on top of that, you feel guilty for feeling that way because of all the opportunities that lie before you. I am so grateful that I am able to study abroad this semester. But in that moment in Marseille, I wished I could go back to my dorm room in Elm, catch up with my roommates over nachos at Late Night at Berk, and book my Peter Pan bus home for spring break.
Of course, as I'd learned as a freshman, homesickness doesn't last. When I arrived in Montpellier again, where I'm studying abroad, my host mom and I made soupe au fenouil for dinner and took a walk around our neighborhood in the historic part of the city. I was happy to find that being back in Montpellier did feel familiar to me. It really is becoming my new home away from home.
Soupe au fenouil
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then add the fennel bulbs. Cook, covered, for 20–30 minutes until the fennel is fully cooked and can be easily pierced with a fork. Transfer to a blender with 1 cup of cooking water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Blend until fully puréed, and serve with salt, pepper, and a generous drizzle of olive oil (my host mom swears that the olive oil is key!)