The art of eating abroad


(Graphic by Shannon Millar)
(Graphic by Shannon Millar)

Deciding to study abroad can be one of the most terrifying and rewarding decisions of your university career. The process is tough, and requires a lot of effort but the pay off is far worth the paper work, as well as having to make adjustments to simple things like my diet.

I am currently on an international exchange at Swansea University in Swansea, Wales. It is because of Laurier International that I am able to embark on such a journey. Travel has broadened my horizons and made me look at the world through a difference lens. However, there is one aspect of my life that is always changing, and this is no different here in Wales. This one aspect is food.

Balancing food choices and remaining healthy while away can be a challenge. Every country has different food customs. Often foreign food can seem strange and unappetizing, but it is usually the food that you are least familiar with that you enjoy the most.

As a self-proclaimed carnivore and glutton, food is a major part of my life. I have personally enjoyed trying new foods while in Britain, and this is mainly because meat and potatoes are major parts of their everyday diets. This suits me just fine.

However, eating healthy can sometimes be a challenge. Because I am in a residence with a fairly small kitchen, it is often difficult to make healthy choices. It’s much easier to grab a frozen pizza from the corner store than try and squeeze a weeks worth of groceries into my tiny fridge.

As well, eating abroad can be difficult for people with dietary restrictions. I sat down with Hannah Engelke, an exchange student from Baltimore. Engelke is also a vegan and has admitted that traveling abroad has affected her diet.

“I have found it difficult to avoid certain other products I usually avoid in my diet, like dairy,” said Engelke.

Being a vegan or a vegetarian can be difficult in a country where meat is a major dietary landmark. However, “I have started to appreciate the benefits of the American food system, rather than just criticize it,” added Engelke. British food and safety laws are often vastly different from Canadian and American laws.

Welsh cuisine is heavily influenced by the landscape of the country. Fish are abundant along the shore and countless sheep dot the rolling hills throughout Wales. This makes fish and chips a staple in any Welsh diet and lamb chops are just as common.

Eating new foods while away can be a fun and rewarding experience. It certainly has been more me. But if you have dietary restrictions, you may want to research food customs before you travel. In addition to researching food customs, researching a country can give you insight into their culinary traditions and will give you an idea of the food you might expect to be eating on your worldwide tour.

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