When you live miles away from home for the better part of the year, it’s normal to experience bouts of homesickness. This is something that us college kids often go through — especially during the holidays. So, what to do? What’s the quickest, fastest, and most effective way to cure homesickness? 

The best way, I think, is to indulge in a plate of food that reminds you of what’s served at the dinner table back home. 

It could be the simplest of things — maybe a mac salad your mom makes. Or it could be the most elaborate curry that’s made only for the special occasions back home. Good food is like a hug on a plate — it fills you up with warmth and nostalgia. Sometimes this kind of food is exactly what’s needed to get through a rough day. 

Growing up, I despised cooking. I thought it was way too much work and needlessly messy. I took my mom’s home-cooked meals for granted and didn’t realize how much I’d miss them when I started school halfway across the world.  A few months into the semester, smack dab in the middle of midterm season, I had a terrible day and just didn’t know how to fix it. I went to Hillside and got one of those microwavable Indian dinners. It was probably the worst curry I’ve ever had — but it completely fixed my day. That one microwavable meal was just what I needed in that moment. 

Of course, home-cooked meals can never be replaced by take-out or microwavable meals. In my first two years at Rochester, I tried every Indian restaurant in the city and all of the microwavable Indian meals at Hillside, but, after a point, nothing really did the trick. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I ended up going back home to India and stayed there for the fall semester. Like anybody else during months of isolation and with absolutely nothing to do, I turned to TikTok and YouTube. I just had to keep my idle brain occupied. I was sucked into all of the quarantine trends: dalgona coffee, TikTok tortillas, cloud bread, mug cakes — I did it all. Cooking was no longer cumbersome when I had so much time on my hands, and I was in love with the end result every single time. The satisfaction I got from a bite of my own food was immeasurable. Eventually, I learned how to make my favorite home-cooked meals, too, and cooking finally became something I genuinely enjoyed.

When the time came to return to Rochester this spring, I was relieved and comforted knowing I wouldn’t have to go back to those microwavable meals from Hillside. Eating food that I actually like has been my saving grace this semester. Nowadays, when it’s so easy to feel low, and when it’s so difficult to go out and socialize, good food has lifted me up every day. Cooking is an essential life skill, because sometimes all you need is a hug on a plate.

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