By Ada Zhang
So much of our lives is measured by what we gain and what we lose. We lose our innocence; we gain maturity. We lose old friends; we gain new ones. We lose close family members; we gain a deeper appreciation for the things they did when they were alive.
I’m convinced that loss and gain are two sides of the same coin.
When I was in New York this summer, I gained weight.
I was fine the first few weeks, still sticking to my healthy regimen of salads and smoothies. But then garlic bagels started becoming a daily morning ritual. And then I started eating Indian food regularly with my coworkers. Naturally, then, came the pizza. Oh God, the pizza. (Broccoli is a normal pizza topping in New York—why is that not happening in Texas?!)
Once I went pizza, I could never go back to salads and smoothies. That would just be pedaling backwards.
So I really went to town, taking in anything and everything delicious New York had to offer: mushroom burgers from Shake Shack, dim sum, hummus and falafel, Sunday brunches, pickled okra, banh mi sandwiches … My appetite seemed to grow bigger and bigger every day—and so did my pants size.
My dresses fit more snug than before, and the belt I’d brought with me was no longer necessary. (My hips did all the work by themselves!) By the time I weighed myself, I was five pounds heavier than the fit chick from Texas who stuck to salads and smoothies.
“I lost my skinny body and gained a bunch of fat” was one way of assessing my situation, but it didn’t adequately capture my New York experience.
I’m also convinced, you see, that nine times out of 10, what we gain in life is always better than what we lose.
So yes, I “lost” my skinny body, but during those curry-and-naan outings, I developed meaningful relationships. From sharing a box of pizza with native New Yorkers, I got to hear their stories and acquire their wisdom. The different ethnic foods I tried gave me a taste (literally) of the unique cultures all thriving under the big umbrella that is New York City.
I gained five pounds, but really I gained a whole lot more than that.
If you’re traveling abroad this semester, listen to me carefully: embrace your travel curves. The foods we try—and the words we exchange between bites—are crucial elements of travel that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dive into an unfamiliar cuisine without thinking about its caloric content. Let the new flavors surprise you, excite you. Try an authentic crepe in Paris, and don’t be afraid to load it with the good stuff. (Nutella, anyone?) Don’t you dare pass through Italy without eating a five-course meal and then getting gelato for dessert.
Wherever your wanderlust takes you, gain knowledge of food culture. Gain laughter. Gain joy. Gain adventure.
And lose nothing. (Except maybe a pair of ugly pants that were always too tight and that you never liked that much anyway. That’s what Goodwill is for.)