On Salads and Spanish: One EIC is ready to “Try Everything” while abroad

Play “Try Everything” from Zootopia while reading this

Meredith Mclaughlin


Hey what is up you guys, before we get into the meat of the article I would appreciate if you right now went to Spotify or YouTube and started playing (on repeat) “Try Everything” by Shakira from the Zootopia Soundtrack. I think you’ll find it fits the theme of this article very nicely, thanks.

Therefore, I’ve been away studying abroad for the past month or so in Granada. Right off the bat studying abroad is amazing, I really recommend it (especially this program. Don’t worry Prof. Lamas you got shooters in the paper.) That being said, I think it’s common sense that travelling for long periods of time requires an openness to trying new things. For the most part this has been an overwhelmingly positive experience: things like tapas and going to bed at like 1:30 being normal are stuff I can jive with. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was that the thing I struggle the most to enjoy is something not too abnormal back in the states. I am of course talking about salad.

I have never liked salads. I’ll eat a little as a side but eat it as a meal when you can get literally anything else? Soup or salad? Catch me sipping on my Italian Wedding while others are stuck with bitter lettuce. The only good salad I ever had was on this app from 2008 where you can make your own salad and then not eat it. I’m staying with a host family right now, and they are fantastic. My host mom is a wonderful person and a wonderful cook, but she also loves salads. I know the obvious answer to this “problem” is that I needed to just say at the beginning that I wasn’t a fan of salads. But I already played that card! My host mom gave me a plate of cherry tomatoes as a snack and I was like “thank you but I’m not a big fan of tomatoes.” And since then I haven’t had any tomatoes, which is great! But asking for a removal of one vegetable/fruit is wholly different from being like “yes I Am a picky bitch and I do NOT LIKE salads. I don’t care if that’s what you make for a side for each meal!” I am fortunate enough to be studying abroad as is, and it’s so nice to be able to become a part of a family and learn about the culture of the place you’re living in. I’m just really thankful I’m getting home cooked meals in general, and I’m too ~*socially anxious*~ to bring up my tastes. Besides, studying abroad is all about trying everything (I told you the song would come in handy you better be still listening.) So I’ve been pushing myself to really just go to town eating salads every night. And you know what? They’re actually not that bad. I feel like the more I eat them, the more I can appreciate them, and the more I can enjoy the parts about salad I like. It’s not my favorite, but it does provide a nice contrast to the hot item, and I feel like a healthy god. A week ago I was able to do 20 sets of stadium steps and a 6km run; do you think I’d have been able to do that before I started crunchin’ on those lettuce leaves? Not likely!

This whole salad thing has been going on at the same time that I’ve been learning Spanish. Like my ability to eat salads, speaking Spanish is something I never was good at. I made the mistake of not taking a Spanish class before studying abroad, but since I had cleared exit level I assumed that my Spanish skills were at least passable. Smash cut to day 1 in Spain, where I’m getting physically dizzy every time someone speaks Spanish to me and I have to respond. Everyone in our program had to take a Spanish entry exam to see which level of Spanish speaking classes we could be in. We were expected to test into levels 5-8. Your girl tested into level 4 baby! My classes are mostly in English because at the time I was a Spanish illiterate! My whole life the waiter has been like “English or Spanish” and I’ve been choosing to sip on my native language while everyone else was taking big crunchy bites out of a new one! I’ve improved a lot in terms of speaking and comprehension, but it’s still not easy. Sometimes I feel discouraged and a little silly for not having the skills I needed to take classes here in Spanish. Nevertheless, like the salad, the more I push myself to try, the more I enjoy speaking with other people and connecting. Like Shakira says in her hit song “Try Everything,” “I still mess up, but I’ll just start again. I want to try everything.”

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