So far, one of my favorite things about studying abroad has been learning to become more independent. At school I am pretty spoiled, as I’m still under a dining plan, so I don’t cook for myself on a day-to-day basis. Normally, all my meals are prepared for me, and I don’t even have to think twice about it. Since coming abroad I have become more aware that this is a very sheltered way of living, and as a college student in her spring semester of junior year, I need to start getting ready for the real world. Because I know that in the real world, things aren’t always going to be so easy. Lucky for me, being in Rome has actually served as the perfect environment to start preparing for my “real world adventures.” I am learning to cook, and I am learning how to sustain a lifestyle I enjoy. Here’s my take on things:
Sunday night: I like to procrastinate, plus I’m a night-owl, so I normally do my weekly grocery shopping around 11:30 or midnight on Sunday (or Monday morning, I guess!). Carrefour, one of Rome’s chain supermarkets, is luckily a 5 minute walk from the Residence, so I can get over there in no time. Plus, the store is open 24/7, so I can walk in whenever. It rocks. Before leaving I like to look up recipes I want to try for the week. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I’ve been learning how to get creative with my meals. Not only am I a procrastinator, but I am also easily distracted, so often, I go to Carrefour with 10 items on my list yet will come out with 20 (I’m also working on budgeting, by the way…)
Monday during the day: Mercato Trionfale. I think this is my favorite place. Mercato Trionfale is an open-air market which sells pretty much anything you could need: fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, pasta—even underwear and socks. The market is where I get my fruits and vegetables for the week, and it’s amazing. The produce is fresh, and the prices are cheap, a complete win-win situation. Everything is laid out in a beautiful display, and all you need to do is tell the vendor how much of each item you want. I love the open-air market because each of your senses are engaged, and it’s a place where I get to practice my Italian with other vendors. The market is always buzzing, and I look forward to going every week.
During the week: experiment! As I said earlier, I am learning to cook, so that means I am learning to be patient with myself as I make some mistakes here and there. I try to make meals that will last for a couple days, and I am just inventive with my leftovers. It’s great living in an apartment with four other girls because everyone contributes ideas for my recipes; one roommate will suggest certain vegetables, another will toast some bread, and another will make sure we have cookies for dessert 🙂 So far, there have been a few mistakes (like that one time I tried to crack an egg, yet somehow ended up completely missing the pan…), but there have been triumphs as well!
I’m proud of myself. I’m 20 years old and I’m learning to cook; some might say I should’ve learned earlier, but as for me, I’m glad Rome gets to be the backdrop for my cooking adventures. Look below for some of my recent creations: fried eggs with chickpea salad on toast, and broccoli-quinoa quesadillas. I know these dishes are not very “Italian,” but I promise I’ve been eating plenty of pizza and pasta!!