Wry Exchange

Feeding your New Exchange Student
08-02-07, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , , ,

I usually feed new students simply prepared meals; such as grilled meat, baked potatoes, rice, and green salads.  All foods are unseasoned. I don’t put any dressing on the salad, and keep all ingredients separated.  Watch your student to see what they enjoy.  Some students are very polite, and will eat food even if they hate it.  (This phase doesn’t last long.)  I remember one poor Argentine eating chili.  One bite of chili, a drink of water, a cracker, and another bite.  He kept insisting he loved it, and we believed him. 

It’s a good idea to take your student to a buffet, especially if he has limited English.  You’ll get to see what your student likes, and you’ll find much to laugh and talk about at the buffet.   Chileans don’t know what macaroni salad is, but they eat all the ingredients.  They just don’t put it together.  Many foods will be like macaroni salad to your student-familiar ingredients in a new way.

“Americans eat plastic food.”  I’ve heard that from many exchange students.  One Frenchman stated he only ate fresh vegetables, not plastic American ones.  The host family pointed out their garden and told him the veggies were picked earlier that day. They still weren’t as tasty as French vegetables.   A Brasilian said that pineapple juice wasn’t fresh if it wasn’t squeezed within a few hours.  Who knew you could squeeze a pineapple?  Many students are used to eating made-from-scratch meals daily…and they sit down as a family to eat those meals!  Most of us don’t have the time to cook or eat together here.

The students don’t understand how expensive fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods are in the states.  They marvel at the number of overweight people, but don’t know that it’s not cheap to eat a healthy diet.  They don’t know that labor costs are very high.  All they know is one lemon here is the price of 2 kilos at home.  You don’t want to scare your student into not eating fresh produce, either.  Raspberries are very expensive here most of the year. In parts of the world, pure raspberry juice sells along side orange, peach, and apple juices.

 After the first few weeks, they’ll be shoveling in Taco Bell and McDonald’s. 

  • I don’t know of any other countries that have free soft drink refills.  The kids really miss free refills when they return home.
  • Expect to see creative uses for mayonnaisse, ketchup, and mustard.
  • Not all countries eat 3 meals a day.  Some countries have 4 or 5 daily meals. 
  • Lunch is the most important meal for many people.
  • Fresh dairy products aren’t refrigerated everywhere.  If you can’t find the butter, check the cupboard. 
  • Milk and cream sometimes come in aseptic cartons.  The milk here will taste different.
  • Ranch dressing is strictly American.  Many students have only used olive oil and lemon juice. 
  • Mountain Dew, bacon, peanut butter, brownies, and Pop Tarts aren’t available worldwide.
  • USA portions are HUGE compared to the rest of the world.  A sandwich may only consist of one thin slice of ham, and a thin slice of cheese.
  • Many of my students have their first drive-through meal in the USA.
  • Expect lectures about ‘wasteful Americans’ from Europeans if you don’t recycle and compost as much as possible.
  • The kids all agree on one fact.  The USA has the worst bread in the entire world.  When they reminisce about bread from home, they’ll have a far away, dreamy look.  It is easier to find artisan bread now, but ‘it’s just not the same.’
  • They hate our orange juice, too.

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