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Hotpot Dinner

Here's a question: What is one food from home you think you'll miss most in college? 

It could be anything, as big as a full-on meal or as small as a late-night snack. For high schoolers out there, this might be a question you haven't really chewed on, no pun intended.  But you have to take my word on this: once you're six to seven months in college and you're forcing yourself to concentrate on the math problem in front of you, your mind wanders, and it's not long until this question hits you. 

What a table of hot pot looks like: A big bowl of soup in the center with side dishes of meat and vegetables (This was during my winter break in Boston with my friend from back home!)
For me, it's a dish called Hot Pot which I miss so dearly from back home. This is a huge pot of chicken/fish soup flavored with spices, with an assortment of vegetables and meat of your choice. It has its roots in Chinese cuisine and Myanmar is highly influenced by its tastes, hence my immense love for this dish. I haven't been back home since I've started freshmen year and I could not find a restaurant which served Hot Pot nor the right ingredients for me to (try to) whip up my own rendition of Hot Pot. So, you can imagine my happiness when one of my friends forwarded an email with the subject: HOT POT DINNER@ International Cafe-RSVPs needed. 

Yes, even my friends are aware of my dire thirst for hot pot. And also yes, I think I spent a good 5 minutes just running around my room and squealing random words of joy. I couldn't continue this for long though because I knew I couldn't miss out on the RSVP. I'm well into my finals week but there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity. 

A map of the world with star stickers
Look at the little star stickers posted all over the world map!
So, the following Thursday, my friend and I walked to Wheelock House, an initiative and a safe hub for students to promote service and self-growth. Our hosts, Jay and Ruth, warmly welcomed us and gave us a little tour of the cozy home. Wheelock House holds weekly casual sessions for international students where we can just drop in and get a snack, drink some hot tea, and catch up with other students. What was really cool was this world map where every new student who came in stamped a star sticker on the country they are from. My friend, who is from Ghana, and I, proudly stuck our little stars on the map. 

The long antique table was filled with large plates of food: beef, shrimp chicken, rice cakes, an array of vegetables, vermicelli, and fish balls. Ruth and Jay had thought as far as to get spicy-lovers like me a jar of hot tom-yum paste to dip in the boiling soup. The moment I brought the just-cooked piece of beef between my lips, I felt all the stress from finals week fade away (although I may very much be back at it now). I met graduate students, upperclassmen, and my fellow '23s and filling our stomachs to our hearts' content, we talked about our stories on how we found and came to embrace Dartmouth. 

A quick snapshot of Wheelock House after the lovely dinner (it is definitely not as grim as the light makes it look!)
So, back to the question: What is the one dish that you will miss when you are in college? Honestly, it doesn't have to be a specific dish. Maybe it's the feeling of joining a dinner table. Or the warm sentiment when you taste a bowl of hot soup after a tiring day. These kind of little things are the intangibles that you will love and bring to college. 

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