Random thoughts in the cafeteria.

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June 30, 2017 by hallyrh

So I’ve got £2 meal vouchers for the hospital restautant. I’ve been eating here the whole week and like a noob, I’ve only recently learned that you could get sides with the main dishes. (I’m sorry, okay?? Haha. 😂 In the Philippines we only ever have rice with a particular dish, an appetizing soup, and that’s basically it.)

I couldn’t understand the menu before, but now I know that the indented items at the bottom of the list refer to sides. Yeah you probably don’t get what I’m saying.

Anyhoo. The first time I ever ate there, I had a chicken burger but the the kind server voluntarily put a side of chips (fries) on my plate so I thought it was part of the meal.

The second time around, that was Monday, I had a salad because I ate like a kraken the entire weekend and decided to give my poor alimentary tract a break.

The third time, I ordered fish baked in bread crumbs. No sides. As I gingerly ate my lonely fish, I looked around and noticed people’s plates were teeming with other dishes aside from their main course. And that’s when I realized. Ah. The first row of trays in the counter display the main dishes, and moving along, the next row of hot trays were the sides. NOTED.

So the following day I came to lunch with a renewed bounce in my step. They were having a Mexican Wednesday and so I ordered my favorite quesadillas. To my utter disbelief and, not gonna lie here, absolute delight, they dumped 2 quesadillas on my plate!!! My mouth began to water. And then I ordered a side of curly fries. Needless to say, my sodium and cholesterol levels probably shot up after that meal (and I’m only saying probably cause I didn’t have enough room in me to consume the second quesadilla). But I didn’t care. I was celebrating. I ordered a side dish! I ordered a side dish! 😂😂😂

This afternoon, I ordered the chicken breast and some baked beans. There we go. Back to healthy eating. Fiber. Proteins. But as I set my tray down on the table to begin eating, I was like uh-oh. Is it customary for baked beans to be eaten with chicken breast? And they also gave me stuffing and two small potatoes to go with the chicken. Is there some sort of actual way to eat these things? I thought.

Google. I was googling how to eat my lunch, isn’t it sad?

Baked beans, I found out, basically go with hotdogs and burgers and roast chicken (DING! DING! DING!). Now, how to eat stuffing with chicken without making a fool of myself? I tried Google but after a few searches with no relevant hits, I was all BLAAAAH. Who cares. I’m Filipino anyway, I’ll eat it however I want. Haha. 

And so I kind of mixed the stuffing with the baked beans. (They tasted heavenly, mind you 😄).

But upom observing the kind gentleman on the next table, you’re supposed to fork a piece of chicken meat, fork a bit of stuffing, and then fork a bit of potato before putting it in your mouth. Like layers.


I know all of us can eat however the eff we want but at the same time, I want to learn these things, you see. It’s culture, it’s part of the adaptation process. We as foreigners have to know how they do things here. What if in their culture, mixing stuffing with baked beans is considered completely barbaric? It probably isn’t, haha… but just for the sake of citing an example, humor me.

We’re here to work, primarily, and send money to our families — but at the same time we’re here to learn. Not only about work-related things but also, more importantly, about life. About living.

This is my first time being away from my family and actually living overseas. I’ve only ever been overseas for short holidays, a week at the most. This is completely different because I am completely away from the jurisdiction of my comfort zones. 

Only a fraction of people here speak my language. Barely any of them eat rice. Temperatures almost never reach 20 degrees. Food servings are humongous. There are bus passes and bus stops. Cars ambling past are all luxurious and posh. Ovens are called cookers, washing machines are simply called washers, the bathroom is called “the loo”. The driver’s seat is on the right side. The sun’s still up at 9 PM.

Having to take it all in by myself, you’d think I’d be frightened and scared out of my wits. But no, not really. I get really pumped up for this kind of stuff. Learning all these things and adapting to them, while seemingly ominous, they are not impossible. This is what I wanted right? To break free from routine and get a metaphorical breath of fresh air. This is it. I’m breathing it in.

I’m not saying it’s going to be a breeze. In fact, I think it’s going to be the most difficult thing ever. I know there will be days when I’m going to beg to come back home. But if I let this chance go, I might never get it back. It’s all really up to me what I’m going to do with this opportunity. Chicken out and go home defeated? Or learn from my mistakes and keep on trudging?

What do you think a reasonable 28-year-old adult would pick? (Despite the fact that I look like a high school student, according to some people here — haha.)


So as I was eating my very thought-provoking baked beans amd chicken breast, two young men in HCA uniforms of the same coloring as I dropped down in the seats in front of me and said hello in my native language. MY BROTHERSSS!! I thought happily. But yeah, that was really nice, what they did. One of them was the son of my possible mentor in Ward 11. We’ll eat together again should I see them tomorrow at lunchtime. Which is awesome!

Anyhoo. I got an invitation from Tita Myra for tomorrow evening, so I decided to get my laundry done today instead of tomorrow as originally scheduled. They’re currently tumbling around in the dryer and I hope they don’t come out damp. Ugh.


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