It is often said that America is a melting pot, and students will find this especially true in the variety of food and meals that are available in the US from other countries and cultures.
That is, if you live in a large US city.
The biggest cities have nearly unlimited food options to meet the dietary needs of practically any international student. You may find your options more limited, however, in small towns and rural areas.
College dining halls will sometimes cater to international tastes with specific meals or dishes. If this is offered at your college, it is a great way to get a taste of home while introducing new friends to food from your country.
International student clubs and language clubs (German Club, for example) will often cook authentic meals for their members. Many colleges also have an “international week” when these types of clubs cook food from the countries they represent and serve it to other students (sometimes for a small price).
Large grocery stores often have a section dedicated to international food. The size of this section and the variety of food it offers may depend on the demand in your community. In other words, if a lot of people from your country or culture live in the town, you most likely will have more options.
Many American cities have no shortage of restaurants specializing in food from a few countries, such as Mexico, Italy, China and Japan. The food, however, is often Americanized and is sometimes derided for not being “authentic.”
The city may also offer restaurants that surprise you. For example, an Ethiopian restaurant welcomes students just a few blocks from Ohio State University in Columbus.
If you live in a rural area, you may have to travel to another city to find the food you are accustomed to, especially if you have special dietary needs. The student newspaper at Arkansas State University told of one student who traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to stock up on six months’ worth of food.
Another option is purchasing food — or at least spices and other non-perishable items — from the internet. It may not be the cheapest alternative for a student, but it may be the most convenient.
If having easy access to food from your culture is important, ask international student services or international students at the college you want to attend about the availability of international food. But remember: Trying the food of another country is part of the international student experience.