There are things that you think you know and life has a way of shattering that illusion. One of the things that I thought I knew was how to move to a new country and negotiate the intricacies of getting up and running and most significantly, getting comfortable – after all I had done it before and enjoyed it.
This time it was different. Ann Arbor and grad school made certain of it. With Impostor Syndrome playing its insidious role as I adjusted to the demands of my program, making social connections and locating communities of shared interest took a back seat. Combine this with the like nature of those around you and the likelihood of meaningful social connections in the first semester can be a hit or miss proposition. Having had a core group of friends with whom I spent most of my time before I got here, this was the biggest hurdle to my getting comfortable in the place I hope to call home for the next few years.
Sure, I didn’t spend all my time absorbed in reading dense philosophical theory or grappling with statistics but on those occasions that I did go out, I couldn’t help but compare my present with my past and this is where my discomfit lay – until Soup Night.
Soup Night is a transported event that one of my cohort brought with him to grad school. It is about food, fellowship and fun and a place to relax. Generally a weekly occurrence, he and his wife open their home and lives to people in the cohort, the Department and their neighbours, friends and new acquaintances. Like the ingredients in the soup, the combination of people on any night changes the flavor of the evening and is always something to look forward to. He also bakes bread, so we can literally say that we break bread together.
This is significant – where I come from food is at the centre of the relationship between fun and friendship. We’ve laughed uproariously, played stupid games and made friendships that will last. I was fortunate that my birthday fell on a Soup Night so it became my party – and felt like home.
Soup Night is not just about food – for me it’s food for the soul.