November 16, 2011. Mohammed has been studying in Minnesota for just about 3 months. “Oh man I miss my mom’s delicious white spicy rice,” he laments. “Oh my god I miss my favorite Iraqi dish, Biryani.”
Sebastian has been in the U.S. for well over a year when he realizes, “I still can’t stand a day without craving the most simple things I used to have back home: meals as simple as plain white rice with potatoes and chicken.”
There are plenty of things you know to worry about when coming to study in the U.S. “How can I relate to people from all over the world?” fretted Tom. “Would I cope with speaking in English all of the time?” thought Simba. “Would I ever find anyone like [my uncle] in America?” Senzeni asked herself, in tears at the airport in Zimbabwe.
But “one thing I never thought about [before leaving home] was food,” said Mohammed; “how badly I would miss my mother’s dishes, and how food would be a huge part of my culture shock.”
Javaria even traveled all the way from Massachusetts to New York just to find a taste of the desi food she missed from South Asia.
But why does food all of a sudden become so important when you’re abroad? Why do so many international students cite food as the thing they miss most, even more than they mention their own families?
It turns out food has a more powerful role in our lives and our minds than you might imagine. Here are three things you might not know about why you miss food from home while studying abroad: