While this is my first time living off campus, it’s not the first time I’ve had to cook for myself. Before I left to study abroad in Scotland through Arcadia’s First-year Study Abroad Experience, my mother made sure that I knew at least one of her recipes. She taught me to cook chicken curry which she regularly made at home. Besides that, I didn’t know how to cook much else.
Living in a residence hall at the University of Stirling, I shared a kitchen with 13 other people. There was limited storage, and I was assigned a small cubby in the fridge. Before I got to know my kitchen mates, I would buy my own groceries and cook by myself. It felt like more of a chore than the hobby my mother made it out to be.
That was until I asked Mariah, another Arcadia student and my neighbor from across the hall, if she wanted to cook with me. She was happy to try something different, so we prepared my mother’s curry together. The next day I helped her make a meal and soon enough I was sharing groceries and cooking with a small group of friends almost every night. As the semester went on, we incorporated more recipes into our routine, including my mom’s spinach rice and baked salmon and Mariah’s mother’s chicken parm and Thai noodles.
When I returned to Glenside from Scotland, I continued to cook. My roommate, Gabi, and I finally have our own place with a kitchen fit for a small feast (as far as college eating goes). We host Waffle Wednesday every week, inviting friends over to have waffles for dinner, and we make toasties like we used to in Scotland.
Every once in a while, we have friends over to make big family-style meals. I still make a version of my mother’s chicken curry, my friend Izabelle cooks her family’s famous (in our eyes) mac and cheese, and I hope Gabi will teach me to make pasta from scratch (something she learned while studying abroad in Italy) one day soon.
I’ve accepted that I’ll never cook just like my mom, but I’ve managed to bring people together over meals and create my own dining traditions wherever I go.