Hello U.S.A. | American Snacks and Jet Lag

I take one bite and am immediately satisfied. The softness of the golden sponge cake and the sweetness of the cream filling is nothing like I’ve tasted before, but probably a taste too familiar for Americans. I wolf down two more in one go and I’m mesmerized by how light and rich it tastes at the same time. This lovely snack is the one and the only American cake called the “Twinkie.” It’s now the second semester of the year, and I’ve just had the chance to try it this past weekend.

I clearly was not disappointed.

I’m sitting in a Thai restaurant with a friend’s family enjoying and, at the same time, quietly critiquing the dishes from my hometown. This one is too sweet, that one is too dry, the rice can use more stickiness, and the drink can use more milk – or something along those lines. The food still fills up the void of homesickness I had been experiencing for the week, and I was able to classily show off by speaking to the waiters in Thai. Then comes the desserts conversation.

“Ah, I want elephant ears!”
“Ooh, sounds amazing.”
“Yes, nice!”

Everyone else chimes in. I look at them in horror.  I thought I was the exotic one from the exotic country out in Asia, but even this is a little too much for me to grasp.

“Elephant ears? You do know we go to Tufts right?”

It takes them about five seconds to understand that I took what they said literally; cue the laughter. The pastry called ‘elephant ears’ is now on my checklist of things to try.

The beginning of the second semester comes with the promise of learning new things, meeting new people, and exploring more places. For me, it has clearly also included eating new delicacies; I had the Boston Clam “Chowda” in Quincy Market for the first time this past week.

Having been in the United States for about six months now, I never really thought that trying or learning of ‘different’ dishes or snacks would be one of the things that I would have to encounter here. Yes, yes, I tried apple pie for the first time last semester, but apple pie is a treat that has made its way to the other parts of the world. I assumed that the ‘American diet’ consisted of pizzas and fries, things that are almost available everywhere else, and that there was no other dish that was kept hidden from the international eye. I was clearly wrong, as I’ve been here for only just a week and I’ve already been introduced to three different delicacies.

And this beginning of the second semester also comes with another dark promise for us international students: the utterly nasty word called ‘jet lag.’ It’s not that your international friends have suddenly come to campus much moodier, groggier, and more irritable than before. Well, it is, but only due to the fact that they probably didn’t spend the flight time catching up on sleep, but rather consuming the buffet of movies available on the plane. And no, it doesn’t only take one day of full sleep to get over jet lag (stop saying that, seriously). But with new food, new classes, and new goals, jet lag shall be conquered soon…hopefully.

I’ve been in the United States for half a year and my surroundings are definitely a little bit more familiar. Leaving Thailand has definitely been difficult, but the support system here at Tufts has made the transition to university much easier. As I’m sure for all of you, Tufts is almost like a second home and I’m very excited to be back as a second semester freshman. But there are far more things for me to experience, learn, share, and also eat. I hope to share with you these very experiences and shed light on my take from the international view on various U.S. customs and cultural practices that I encounter. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us all this semester, so let’s try to make it a great one.