Friday, March 26, 2010

Lunch Break

As I’ve mentioned already, most of my time here so far has been spent either going to classes, studying or eating. And seeing that I’ve already given you a little sneak peak of my studies, I thought it fitting to show you where I typically eat.

Most of the time I eat at the main cafeteria on campus.

It’s usually brimming with life.

There are three floors. The higher you go the more expensive (but not necessarily delicious) the food becomes.

What is particularly interesting is that almost none of the international students eat here. It is a bit far from our dorms, and most of the international students like to eat with each other in the little restaurants nearby.

As a result, I’ve grown accustomed to people watching me eat here. I don’t think they’ve grown accustomed to me, though. I’m pretty sure there’s always at least one person staring at me. Also, unless I take the initiative to talk, 99% of the time they will never talk to me. I think they are afraid.

There are multiple stations that serve different kinds of food.

You put money on a card then use that card to buy whatever you want.

Most of the workers are really nice.

This girl (the one on the right) is my favorite. She always gives me five dumplings when I ask for four, and she waves at me every time I come in. I think she has a crush on me.

This was my lunch for that day:

Often times I just point at something new and ask someone at my table what it is as I’m eating it. This is eggplant, peppers, cabbage, some kind of liver, and some other things mixed in. It’s actually three different dishes piled on top of a lot of rice.

It was pretty good. In general, the food here is really good--once you get past the looks. I've learned that it's better to learn what something is after you eat it. That's how you overcome culinary stereotyping.

I also decided to go back and get some dumplings.

1 bottle of water + random mixture of stuff on rice + 6 dumplings = $0.93 (U.S.)

That’s what I like the most about this cafeteria. It’s really cheap. In fact, food in China is generally very cheap compared to the U.S. But if you go to the little restaurants around here you will usually end up paying $3-$5 depending on what you order.

I haven’t eaten anything too strange yet, though my definition of “strange” has changed quite a bit. The cafeteria offers a large variety of things—too many to list. Maybe I will cover some of my more daring culinary expeditions in later posts.

Also, I buy fruit from this secret underground market.

OK, it’s not that secret…but it is underground, and it was very hard for me to find. I usually just buy apples because the pears and bananas aren’t very good. It’s also a general consensus around here that you should peal your fruit before consuming.

And last but not least, there is a convenience store that sells lots of snacks and daily supplies.

I’ve been experimenting with a variety of Chinese snacks, though I sometimes indulge in American classics like Oreos or Lay’s potato chips.

While this might not be the most exciting post you’ve ever read, hopefully you have a little better feel of daily life here. Now that the basics are out of the way I hope to focus on more specific experiences in future posts.

Stay tuned!

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