04 September 2012

Madison, Wisconsin

Isn't it strange sending off someone who you barely know to college? It's one thing to send off a brother or a friend, but to travel to Madison, Wisconsin with someone I barely know - someone with whom I'm on Christmas card terms (ok, Chinese New Year card terms) is bizarre. Am I supposed to feel loss? Do I keep in contact? Having only really been around my cousin for a week, it's weird that I feel so close to her. Maybe it's because we used to be close, when I was 6 or 10 years old (when I visited China). Maybe I just want her to do well, and I just want to help her adjust to all the culture shock. Things that seem so normal to me (peanut butter sandwiches, BLTs, tips) are foreign to her.

Madison is a cross between the suburbs and a small city. It's like they threw together South St. in Philadephia and typical one-house-one-garage-one-lawn suburbia, and in random patches of green, wedged in enormous school buildings, a football field, and two gaudy lakes spawning algae and other environmental problems. We stayed with an amazing woman and her cat. Because of her, the calm streets, and the rows of unchained bikes, Madison seems like a nicer and safer place to live than Philadelphia (though Philadelphia stores don't have "No Guns" signs at the storefront). There
is also lower sales tax, and people recycle.

As U Wisc has a Dairy Plant, wherein there are apparently cows, there is fresh ice cream and cheese for sale. I tried some coffee ice cream ($2.75) and it was pretty creamy. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the giant scoop because it was melting at 5 cm/s. I enjoyed it.

We checked out the Dairy Plant itself, although I'm sure my cousin gets to go as much as she wants later, and I enjoyed looking down from the observation deck, and observed a spill. It appeared that nothing was operating that day, though.

I later bought some freshly made cheese curds because I've yet to encounter them in Philadelphia, NY, or NJ (or I just haven't bothered looking?). Interestingly, cousin thinks that these cheese curds taste like rubber, while my Croatian friend at school thinks that tofu tastes like rubber. They tasted really salty, and they did squeak - but not the way I expected them to squeak. I expected a "Spongebob walking"-style squeak, but instead encountered a cluster of small "polishing a window"-style squeaks.

As I have now tried cheese curds in both Wisconsin and Montreal, I can say that they're good, but not as phenomenal as smoked cheese or chevre. My sister and mum enjoyed it, though.

I found this in a gift store at the airport.

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