A Broad Abroad

12 May

I’m currently sitting on my couch watching “Sex and the City” and eating some leftover chili I found festering in the fridge.

I don’t usually watch “Sex and the City” because Sarah Jessica Parker’s role as a columnist who gets to work in her NYC apartment and who just whimsically writes about sex for money makes me very jealous.

But today – because I’ve been awake since 6AM on account of jet lag – I decided to partake.

In the episode I’m watching, SJP throws salt over her left shoulder – a good luck measure – in the hopes that she will…okay, I’m really not following this episode. But I saw her throw the salt.

This is exciting news to me because I always throw salt over my left shoulder when I cook…which is not very often…which is why I always throw about a CUP of salt over my shoulder. Gotta make up for lost time.

When I was in Geneva, no one believed me that “salt throwing” is an actual thing and that it brings good luck. I tried to explain to them that I come from a long line of salt-throwers – including my great-grandmother and my grandmother – and therefore, it most definitely is a thing.

But usually, they were too busy rinsing the salt out of their eyes to listen to me…

Watching this whole salt scene unfold really made me miss Geneva.

*Cue the miniature violins that I paid to play at this self-pity party. And make sure they stand next to the ice sculptures because that shit wasn’t cheap and I want people to see them, goddammit!!*

So as not to be standing alone by the snack bar at this pity party, I messaged Selby to tell her about SJP’s salt throwing.

And do you know what?? She said that if SJP did it, then it must be a real thing!

(Looks like the *student* has become the *master*.)

Can you tell that I’m proud to have contributed to a teaching moment in Selby’s life? Because I am.

In Geneva, it was usually the other way around. Selby was always teaching me things about life!

For instance, did you know that avocados are not meant to be refrigerated?

Or that a “machete” is NOT a gun?

These were just two of the important life lessons I learned while abroad.

The other thousand came from experiences, friends, strangers, books (JUST KIDDING), and little tidbits of information I picked up along the way.

So, in the spirit of studying abroad, learning, luck, and TV shows about sex and salt, here is my official List of Lessons Learned Abroad:

1. If someone tries to throw you out a window, let it happen. This is a great way to bond with that person. Just make sure the window is only three feet above ground and that you will land on a soft patch of soil.

2. Smoking sheesha is supposed to be a relaxed activity…you do NOT want to be that person who can’t stop laughing and asking if you look like James Bond while you “sheesh.” You also do not want to be that person who turns the word “sheesha” into every tense possible and then repeats it over and over in different contexts.

3. The two secrets to hiking are chocolate covered espresso beans and walking sticks. On walking sticks: If you name your walking stick, this creates an inseparable bond, akin to that between a carpenter and his…nails? Never discard of your walking stick. It makes for a great hanger when someone’s underwear accidentally ends up in your laundry pile. (If an authority figure stumbles upon a stick with underwear on it and declares it a “fire hazard” because it’s blocking the escape route from your room, just smile and nod.)

4. Don’t fight with whipped cream unless you like the smell of old farts. If those are your jam, then by all means, spray whipped cream in your friend’s face because he “looked like he needed some dessert.”

5. Do not climb into someone’s wardrobe and mount their shelves. They WILL break. And no, a twig that you found in the courtyard will not fix the problem.

6. Meats that smell bad probably ARE bad. Do not consume them. If you do, you will develop the “meat sweats” something fierce.

7. Don’t picnic on trains. Your meat will go bad and you will spill stuff and old people will give you nasty looks.

8. Mopping should not look like this:


Or this:


9. Mops are meant for floors. Just because you learned how to mop a few weeks ago (see above) does not justify using the mop on all surfaces (or people).

10. Do NOT anger a kebab store owner. He WILL remember you and he WILL give you the extra spicy sauce instead of the mild sauce for which you asked.

11. If a fellow carnival ride rider says she “might throw up” because she just ate risotto, do NOT yell “risotto” into her face and dare her to puke on you. Because she will.

12. Jell-O shots need time to sit in the fridge. Let them do their thing! Otherwise, you’ll end up swallowing something that defies the laws of chemistry.

kara jello

13. Not every pop song is by Miguel. But, a lot are, so it doesn’t hurt to ask, “Hey, is this a Miguel song?” EVERY TIME there’s a song you don’t know. People like these kinds of repetitive questions.

14. Truth or Dare is a dangerous game. You could end up singing the National Anthem in front of a lake, naked except for the Geneva Flag that is wrapped around your waist.

15. You could also end up licking peanut butter off of someone’s chest. (See above.) Not as easy or delicious as it sounds…

16. When Polish men you meet on the Internet try to offer you mystery tea, by all means, take it! It’s probably not opium! But, it definitely could be…so you’re really on your own for that one.

17. If you come into some money and decide it buy a mountain, don’t name it “Mt. Titlis” unless you want a bunch of rowdy hooligans calling each other “Tits Mcgee” and making tits jokes on top of it.

18. If you wake up feeling sick, it is definitely the plague. Sniffles, a headache, a twitching eyeball, a bruised phalange…it doesn’t matter. You have been struck by THE PLAGUE and you are in serious trouble.

19. Watching a toenail fall off is one of the worst experiences on record. If you or your friend is about to lose a toenail, may I suggest buying him/her a pair of really thick, “high security” boots that can never be unlocked. Ever.

20. People don’t like to get Snapchats of someone else’s toenail falling off. A more appropriate form of social media for that kind of scene is probably MySpace. It’s the Filene’s Basement of social media, so anything goes.

21. Eating dessert with friends can turn into an aggressive sporting event if you have three spoons and the will to attack anyone who gets within two centimeters of YOUR section of custard.

spoon sports

22. It is OK to lie about how many desserts you’ve eaten so that you can continue to eat dessert. This kind of deceit is good for you.

22. Diving into a lake can only lead to good things. Don’t think about consequences! Don’t consider lake depth! Don’t look for rocks! Those kinds of careful considerations are for squares. And YOU, my friend, are a rhombus.

23. The Balsamic Vinaigrette Fairy doesn’t work on weekends, so if someone spills balsamic vinaigrette all over the refrigerator on a Saturday, you are responsible for cleaning it up. Otherwise, it WILL seep out onto the floor and someone will trip in it.

24. Prostitution is a serious matter.

25. Allowing your friends to hack onto your Facebook account and to make inappropriate statuses might prompt your mother to call you and to yell at you about “risking potential employment opportunities for a good laugh!” This is not a conversation that you want to have…Telling your mom that you “don’t care that someone wrote about spicy balls on my wall” is probably not what she wants to hear. Just a guess.

26. If you and your roommate’s bathroom door breaks, don’t rush to get it fixed. Open bathroom practices are great bonding experiences…almost as great and being thrown out a window.

27. The word “unclear” can be used at any time, in any context. It is especially helpful when you are too tired to think of real words to contribute to a conversation. Plus, ambiguous language is the foundation of international diplomacy, am I right, UNITED NATIONS??

28. Developing and perfecting a signature, “coy” look can get you out of almost ANY situation. When in doubt, look coy.

mano coy

29. If someone throws an egg at you, look coy on the outside, while internally hatching a plan to shrink *someone’s* bras in the dryer.

selby egg

30. Dressing up as Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman for a Beer Olympics party is probably in poor taste. Probably.

beer olympic

31. Watch out for “Fake Journalists” – a breed of human that uses its hipster glasses and overall attractive appearance to mask a tiny brain and an even tinier…threshold for intellectual conversation.

31 a.) Sometimes, the best things do NOT come in threes.

32. Doing the worm at a diplomatic event will get you a job offer. Seriously.


(Oh, did you think that was me? No, that’s just some crazy broad I saw doing the worm at a UN event…her form was horrible. I could do it SO much better.)

33. People who claim to be lawyers and who walk around carrying fanny packs of mystery substances are probably not lawyers.

34. Don’t drink with people from New Zealand unless you have a death wish or a really boring seminar on “library science” that you’re trying to get out of.

35. Cheese is not air. Don’t consume it like you need it to live…Unless you have a death wish or a really boring seminar on “library science” that you’re trying to get of.

36. “Mexican hot chocolate” could be used as currency. It is that good.

37. If you call foods by their French names, you will sound like a master chef. Instead of saying, “I’m making eggplant for dinner,” may I suggest saying, “I’ll be making an entrée of sautéed aubergine for dinner.” See what I did there? If not, you will in two weeks when my Food Network special is aired.

38. Aubergine can be eaten for EVERY MEAL. Seriously. Every. Meal.

39. A friend will buy you a beer; a good friend will steal you a chalice.



And finally, the last thing that I learned this semester:

40. If you want to make friends, put on your yellow snow pants and do the Six Flags guy’s dance in your kitchen.


That last one is my way of saying always be yourself; laugh at yourself; laugh at those around you; eat some chocolate; take a swim; and most importantly, don’t be afraid of the “unclear.”

Becomes sometimes, the least clear situations make for the clearest results:

geneva grou

Let’s just say, these people are my salt crystals.

Hats off to Geneva 2014, and to all the friends I made along the way.






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