Imagine being unable to have your mom’s best homemade cream pasta or your favorite candy. Resident students in boarding schools, like Stevenson in Pebble Beach, California, deal with this for months at a time.
Stevenson has people from all over the world, and it can be difficult for them to taste authentic foods from their own home countries. Boarding students at Stevenson have a variety of strategies for dealing with their cravings.
“I just buy ramen. My friends and I also mix in food such as eggs, rice, and soy sauce, because it is what most resembles Chinese food. I also order food from Amazon. Other times I go to Chinese restaurants but most of them aren’t authentic,” said Yijin Hua, a senior from China.
Students from other countries gave similar responses.
Julia Ahn, a junior from Korea, said, “Sometimes I eat ramen. I also order food at Korean websites such as HMart.com. For food that needs to be heated, all I have to do is simply put it in the microwave. This is especially useful during finals when I feel so stressed out and crave Korean food. Also, in the cafeteria I try to get creative and make food that kind of tastes Korean.”
There are other ways to deal with cravings for home food, such as getting it shipped from home by parents or others.
Sofia Rodriguez, a junior from Mexico, told JSR, “Usually in the US they don’t have ‘real’ Mexican food. Foods such as tacos are typical in the US, but they are Americanized. So I ask my parents, friends, or aunt to send candies, chips, and hot sauce. I also bring a lot of food from home.”
Rodriguez keeps a humongous box stacked with all sorts of snacks and candies from Mexico. Others have found access through local markets or restaurants.
Tosha Kuzembayeva, a senior from Kazakhstan, said, “I used to eat a lot fruits back home, so I always buy food at Whole Foods. We have a lot of meat and soups back home, [as well as] milk and yogurt. These are all things available around Monterey,” a 15-minute drive from Pebble Beach, “which I am grateful for. I also eat cheese and other dairy goods similar to meat.”
Similarly, Liza Shcherbakova, a senior from Russia, stated, “I go to restaurants in Carmel, because I usually crave good Italian food. I go home often enough to actually enjoy traditional Russian food, if I want to. As for food cravings, Carmel and Whole Foods usually have it all. I find these useful when I get homesick or when I haven’t been home for a long period of time.”
There are different ways people fulfill their needs for home foods. Some get creative in the cafeteria, while others simply ask people back home. Regardless of their preferred methods, the majority of interviewees agreed that the substitutes don’t compare to the authentic food back home. However, the search continues.