Cultural Shock with Food
By: Valeria Boquin
After receiving my letter of acceptance from Saint Thomas University, the small province of New Brunswick became my new home. From the moment I landed until this present day, I have been completely fascinated with my new lifestyle in Fredericton, everything is different, in a nice way. Unfortunately, one of the main obstacles that I have encountered during my time in Fredericton is the food.
One of the main struggles that international students face after arriving to Canada is getting used to a new diet. Because food is cooked differently back home, spices are not the same, fresh products are often not available, and many vegetables and fruits that were of daily consume are simply nowhere to be found. This causes the beautiful art of food to turn into one of the most irritating parts of your day-to-day.
The effects of the changes in diet result in students skipping meals, experiencing health complications, such as stomach pains, weight loss or weight gain, bathroom irregularities, and for some women, menstrual cycle irregularities. Additionally, visits to
the doctor and to the pharmacy become constant, yet no solution to find a strong motivation to eat is given.
I consider myself a food lover, but when facing negative effects after eating, my interest instantly disappears. My battle with food was one that I couldn't seem to win at all - everyday was a new day of just scanning meal hall to end up eating the same thing. My diet consisted on frequently buying junk food and cooking cheap noodle soups. As a result my energy levels lowered which prevented me from waking up early for my classes, or from dedicating all of my attention during long lectures.
After a year of constantly struggling with food, a new opportunity to change my eating habits was presented during my internship at the Hayes Farm. The process of growing my own food made me understand and build a connection with the food that I was consuming. From seeding to harvesting vegetables and herbs, I found a new meaning for the food I put on the table, everything was now fresh and healthy. As a result cooking became a fun food adventure again, thinking about the different recipes I could make with my sister for the next day became an important part of our bedtime routine. By eating fresh organic vegetables my health improved and my energy came back. I was also really surprised how my international roommates who consumed the food I harvested also experienced the same changes as I did.
The connection with food and the consumer became really important to me after arriving to a new country, even though it was really different I managed to find a way of building it. My job at the farm helped me find a new meaning when eating, one that I had lost after leaving my house. Nowadays I only consume food produced locally,
which I know is healthy and even cheap. That way I support local vendors and assure my health is good. Food is a human right that we all need to survive, it needs to be fun, nutritional, and healthy something that influence on the diet. I can proudly say that I now have a holistic approach when eating, as it influences my life and on my love ones.