ICES Exchange Student Share about American Diet
While food is a huge part of cultural exchange, one thing that almost all international exchange students have in common is missing their mothers’ cooking not long after their arrival in the study destinations. Different students from different countries have different ways to deal with the challenges.
For example, America, a melting pot of different cultures, covers some 3.8 million square miles so the taste and food preference ranges from one state to the another, although the diet overall is disparate from those in other nations.
Southern-style cooking is often called “American comfort food” and includes dishes such as fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and corn bread. Tex-Mex, popular in Texas and the Southwest, is a blend of Spanish and Mexican cooking styles and includes items such as chili and burritos, and relies heavily on shredded cheese and beans.
For those who are from Cambodia, where rice is a staple food and common flavor is distinguished from Americans, adapting to the States’ diet can be a pain in the neck. Yet at International Cultural Exchange Service Cambodia (ICES Cambodia), it is always ensured that those who signed for the High School Exchange Program are prepared for every new thing in the new places, including food.
“Before leaving for their study destinations, enrolling students need to attend special training to ready them for the upcoming adventure,” said Eun Lee, ICES Cambodia Senior International Relation Officer and also a former exchange student in the US.
“Even the smallest difference can cause culture shock, and we are doing our best to make sure that our students have all the information they need so that they can enjoy their exchange year to the fullest.”
Amra Chomroeun, an 11th grader from Cambodia who is now attending Foyil High School in Claremore, Oklahoma, said that being in the US almost feels like being in the center of a culinary community although today, food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips and macaroni and cheese are commonly identified as American.
“Since I’ve been here, I have tried a lot of new food,” he said. “Since the US is diverse, I’ve been trying other countries’ food as well such as Italian, Mexican food etc. There are a variety of restaurants and Americans enjoy food from different cultures.”
Meanwhile, Rathreacheany Samat, another ICES Exchange student from Cambodia, enjoys how special evening meals are for American families. Despite being thousands of miles away from her biological family, she feels warmth sitting around the table at the end of the day to enjoy a meal together with her host family.
“Ever since I arrived in the US, I’ve been eating things like chicken pot pie, steak, chicken noodle soup, pizza, lasagna, meatballs, and so on,” she said.
“I also noticed that Cambodians eat more varieties of vegetables and herbs. So far, my favorite American food is my host mom’s chicken pot pie.”
Being nostalgic about home cooking is not an easy experience, but it is part of the once-in-a-life-time adventure. Your youth can be over before you know it, and that’s why you have to sign up for the thrilling oversea journey with ICES Cambodia now!
For more information on how you can join the High School Student Exchange Program with ICES Cambodia, as well as the program fees and application process, please contact 077 777 244 or 098 686 901. To be eligible, you must pass the English Proficiency Test provided by ICES Cambodia and have a good academic record (Average “C” in main subjects for the past 3 years). Register now to take the English Test: https://forms.gle/3qifKLu79f4hx5uB7 .