Good news. GREAT news.
First of all: I got a job. As a cook! In a restaurant. A SEAFOOD restaurant. I really, really enjoy it – more than I ever thought I would. I am an oyster-shucking, lobster-steaming, salad-tossing, creme-brulee-torching chef, and I LOVE it.
What does this have to do with study abroad, Caroline?
Yes! Here’s the thing: not only am I the only girl in the kitchen, I’m one of the two non-El Salvadorians.
Imagine a huge, gleaming, stainless steel kitchen. With expansive countertops and a wall of gas burners and a long station for dishwashing. Put two walk-in refrigerators in one corner, and then add a mess of knives and pots and pans and spatulas. That’s the back kitchen.
When the restaurant is in full swing, the back kitchen is steamy and noisy and loud. But the chefs don’t shout in English – they yell in Spanish. Rapid-fire Spanish that – THIS IS THE COOL PART – I understand because I just got back from a semester in Spain. (Who said the lessons in curse words wouldn’t come in handy?)
They say, “the lettuce is in the fridge on the right”, and I know where to go. They say, “that lucky son-of-a-gun is getting off early”, and I immediately brandish my knife. They say, “Caro, would you like a glass of iced tea?” And I say, heck yes, because finding good sweet tea in D.C. is like trying to find that missing sock from the dryer. (And let me tell you what, those El Salvadorians know how to make sweet tea.)
The benefits of spending a semester in Granada have carried over, seamlessly, to my summer in Washington, D.C. In a very unexpected way. In a very good way.
Not only that – I’d also like to tell y’all that my friendships from Spain haven’t disappeared.
Julia and Logan are working in the D.C. area. It’s awesome. We have taco nights together, and we stay in touch! It was very strange to see Julia, my Spain roommate, on the streets of an American city instead of the cobblestones of Granada, but I love it.
Alix, a Connecticut gal at heart, drove down to stay at my apartment for the Fourth of July weekend. And since she was here, Logan and Julia stayed over too. The little Spain reunion was much needed and very, very fun.
Becca and I write the occasional letter; Alex and I text each other life updates. Riley and I have a Skype date planned for later this week, and I try to keep up with Nate’s adventures in Chicago.
The funniest post-Spain friendship is the one I have with Grant. During the second week of my internship, I boarded the circulator bus (punctually) at 8 o’clock in the morning. I scanned my pass and glanced around, quickly, for a seat. But I stopped, slightly stunned and very much surprised, when I saw Grant sitting in the back, dressed in a business button-down and sporting a serious-looking briefcase. He waved. Turns out (get this) that Grant and I take the same bus to work. But not only that – we also get off at the same stop and walk in the same direction.
I’ve been on the bus with Grant many, many times. He lives two streets up from me in Georgetown and works one block away from me downtown. We’ve decided that all of the D.C.-Granada folk need to meet up for tapas. (Date TBA.)
The after-Spain adventures are never-ending, and I’m excited to see the continued effects of spending a semester abroad.