Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog again. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, I am going to share my interesting experiences in the U.S. with you. Today, let us talk about eating when you go abroad for the first time.
Honestly, Chinese food and American food have huge differences. I still remember my first two days at UAlbany. I was trapped in my room for two days, because I knew nobody here at that time. The whole school was still closed due to the bad weather. All I saw outside my window was the snow. I did not expect there to be such a big snow storm right after I arrived here. Fortunately, my friendly roommate gave me several bags of noodles, which saved me during the snow days!
After the new semester started, I kept eating surprises in blind spots and guesses every day. Can you imagine that every day you are ordering food with names that you actually do not understand? Well, scroll down to see how I survived.
One day I bought a bottle of “milk”. And I asked my classmates in our group chat whether I could recycle the bottle. (because we have to recycle bottles for community service every week, which I will talk about later in my following blog). Instead of answering my questions, they asked me, “More importantly, Jade, did you really drink it?”
I was kind of confused then, “Not really, but why did you ask? Is it not delicious?”
“Because it is not milk, it is half and half.”
What is half and half? Honestly, I still did not know what this word really meant. I searched on google and found out that half and half refers to half cream and half milk. People add it into coffee but never drink it alone.
OMG, thanks to the group chat, I did not drink it.
After I figured out the bus routes in Albany, I began to go to Walmart by myself to buy things I needed. There are two floors and so many different kinds of food, vegetables and fruits, which makes it seems a good place for shopping, but to me, it looked like a maze the first time I went there. I wanted to buy instant coffee, finally I found the coffee area between shelves. Then I also bought some cracker biscuits, fruits and paper. After I came out of Walmart, it begun snowing heavily. I carried two shopping bags and waited for the bus. Honestly, now I even cannot imagine how could I carry those heavy bags and walk from the bus stop to my room without glove or boots. I did not expect the weather to be so cold here. I just remember stopping at the entrance door of my building. I found that my fingers were so frozen that I could not even control them to take out my SUNYCard to wipe for the door. I put down my bags and put my hands near my neck to unfreeze them. Several minutes later, I could finally feel my fingers move and I was able to take out my card and keys to enter my room.
The two bags were already covered with snow. I wiped off the snow and opened them carefully like a trophy from a difficult battle. I opened the coffee jar because I wanted to warm myself by drinking hot. But I found out that it looked different than the instant coffee I had seen before. I checked the jar again. OMG, it said “ground coffee”. I went to Google and found out that ground coffee is result of roasting & grinding fresh coffee beans, and needs to be brewed via plunger, espresso machine etc.
The first several weeks, I relied on the campus center to eat, but I did not understand most of the names on the menu. More importantly, I did not know how to answer when people asked me “what do you want,” especially when there was a long line behind me. It would be rather embarrassing to take out your phone and look up every word of the menu in the dictionary. I have discovered several ways to save myself in these situations. I think that they will work for you if you study abroad in a country where you do not speak the language. First, I would look up the menu before and make sure I knew the exact meaning. These menus are all on the UAlbany Dining website. Secondly, if you forget the meaning one day, you can also just point to the food which looks like the one you want. Even if you do not know what you should point to, you can always ask “Can you just give me the most popular one?” Remember: never be afraid to ask questions! I actually tried this way several times in the CC, which worked out well. At least, I found out that my favorite sauce is BBQ at Halal Shack!
Ok, what if the dining staff says they do not know which meal is the most popular? The last way to save yourself is just saying, “I would like the same thing the person bought before me.”
Finally, I cannot be satisfied by fake Asian food. I began to cook by myself. Cooking is not as difficult as you think. I began by buying a saucepan, bowls, and all the cooking stuff from Walmart. Then I called my mom to learn how to cook rice and noodles to feed myself.
After two weeks, I could make Chinese food and did not have worry about being hungry in my room. Last week, I invited my “Albany Mom” to my apartment and cooked delicious Chinese food for her!
If you have a kitchen, it actually saves you more money by cooking!
But I have to remind you guys to pay attention to your input! Eat regularly and healthily. Take me as a negative example. At first, I did not understand how many calories some foods had, and ate many fatty food without noticing, such as the coffee cream, which I thought was just sugar. Most of the bread or snacks here contain more fat and sugar than those I eat in China. Plus, I tended to eat later in the evening somehow. Not surprisingly, I gained 22 pounds after the first two months! But you can definitely avoid this by knowing what you are eating and working out regularly, which is what I am trying to do now.
All right, that is what I want to share with you guys about my food experiences in Albany. Feel free to leave your comments below! See you next time.
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Academic Support Center or the Center for International Education and Global Strategy. These are their stories – their voices.
About the Author:
Spring 2019 Exchange Student
Wherever You Go, Be the Best You