A Letter To Ethnic Grocery Stores from College Students Missing Home

A Letter To Ethnic Grocery Stores from College Students Missing Home

Your fluorescent lighting and white linoleum floors may permeate people's nostrils with the stench of fish, but to me, you smell like home.

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Dear Ethnic Supermarkets,

I miss you. College has been a culture shock, especially going to a school where your delicious goods are miles away. I close my eyes and think about the smell of raw fish permeating my nose, the sound of a familiar language yelling out orders, and the sight of "Imported from…" on vacuum-sealed packages. There may have been times I rejected my family's culture back home, but now that I'm in college, I definitely understand and appreciate it so much more. Away with boiled vegetables and rosemary-herbed chicken, they serve in dining halls! I miss chicken stew with vegetables I cannot pronounce, I miss soup with powdered broth I cannot find at the local chain grocer, and I miss juices hailing from our native land. College is difficult and all I want is some home-cooking.

In schools like mine, surrounded by affluent neighbors, you are far and in-between. You're more than twenty miles away, and on top of that, I don't have a car (because that's an added expense that I, a struggling college student, cannot reasonably afford). Ordering an Uber to you? I'm going to spend so much in your fluorescent aisles, I cannot bear to hurt my wallet with a $20 ride.

I must settle with nearby grocery chains that never have exactly what I need.

I am stuck googling alternatives for vegetables, knowing full well that spinach isn't the best substitute for a dish I want to meal-prep. But what can I do? The ethnic "Asian" or "Hispanic" aisle is not enough to fulfill my cravings. There are items missing, there are brands I'd prefer not to use, and there is just not enough variety. On top of that, there is more diversity to my race, and I am not well-represented in this singular aisle. Plus, it's expensive.

Tell me, how can I live with myself purchasing these powders and sauces knowing that, in your discounted aisles, the prices are so much cheaper? Your affordable prices are made more affordable since there are weekly specials happening, too. I'm already struggling to balance work and study that buying an overpriced fruit at this overpriced chain store hurts, even more, when I know you have the same fruit for a quarter of the price.

I suppose I can visit a local restaurant to fulfill my cravings, as they seem to be located closer. However, it just isn't the same. These restaurants are trying to become fusion and modernized, which is code for "Not your home cooking." I don't need low-carb versions of my favorite comfort dish. I need the fat, the spice, every piece of raw ingredient that made it feel like a warm blanket on a cold day.

Being away from home adds to the excitement and stress of college. But, there's something about food that brings me back. After a bad day, a difficult exam, or a long meeting, all I want to do is curl up on my apartment couch with the most comforting food I can offer my taste buds. However, it's nearly impossible to replicate the feeling exactly. It's a struggle, but this struggle makes me appreciate meals that my family sends me, that I pack up from home to get through the semester, and that I'm able to make when my roommate occasionally drives me to town. I miss you but missing you just makes me love you more.

Sincerely,

A Minority College Student

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An Honest Review Of ItWorks! From Someone Who Doesn't Sell The Products

No, I'm not looking for you to "join a team" or begin any challenges.
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I'm sure you've seen your friends on Facebook transition from friend to salesman. Whether it be for Scentsy, LipSense, or AdvoCare; multi-level marketing companies are on the rise thanks to social media. ItWorks! remains one of the most prominent.

ItWorks! is a health and wellness company using primarily plant-based ingredients without any artificial sweeteners or coloring. Their "number one seller" is the famous body wraps but the company is mostly weight loss supplements and vitamins. The company has a passion for the natural over the synthetic. Co-founder Mark Pentecost states on the site's Our History page that "you want to know that you're putting the very best things in your body."

Since most reviews of these products come from distributors, who are therefore biased, I have reviewed three of their greatest products and one I believe you should avoid.

1. Greens™ Blend Chocolate

As a vegan, I sometimes have to double check that I'm receiving the proper nutrients. ItWorks! Greens have been saving my life lately. It contains 52 herbs and nutrient-rich superfoods as well as 34 fruits and veggies. It is meant to alkalize, balance, and detoxify.

This is my favorite product! It gives me energy and even fills in for breakfast sometimes. It honestly makes me feel great. Then again... they always said eating all your fruits and veggies would!

ItWorks! gives you those healthy servings in a delicious chocolate flavor (which is bomb with almond milk). Make sure you use a blender bottle or blender. Like many powdered supplements, it can have that grainy aftertaste.

2. Advanced Formula Fat Fighter™

The idea behind this supplement is that it’s "okay to indulge if you have your Fat Fighters." Basically, if you just must have that sweet treat or piece of bread then you can take this pill within an hour to prevent your body from absorbing the carbs and a portion of the fats. If you're anything like me, you eat what you want when you want, so you'll end up taking these pills on the daily.

The main reason I like the Fat Fighters is that they reduce cravings and I normally have such a sweet tooth!

3. ThermoFIGHT™

This product is meant to increase calorie burning, boost the rate of your metabolism, and boost your energy. Like with Greens, I definitely feel energized when I take this supplement. Not in a jittery or wired way, either.

They say "abs start in the kitchen" but I'll try and cheat the system when I can!

4. Ultimate Body Applicator™ and Defining Gel™

This is the ItWorks! claim to fame... and that ASTOUNDS me.

I used to be so skeptical of this company because of the wraps. I tried them three different times and was not impressed each time. The ultimate body applicator and defining gel are meant to tighten and tone the skin to redefine the appearance of your body’s contour. Sure, you'll receive those results... just at an outrageous price. It's an expensive product that requires a lot of re-purchasing in order to receive any drastic results. Not to mention the most drastic results are just reduction of water weight.

They're really just an overpriced skin firming lotion. I suggest finding a nice cream from Target and sitting in the sauna instead.

If your facebook-friend-turned-salesman pushes for you to buy the wraps, just remember that I warned you.

I would like to give an honorary mention to KetoCoffee (probably their second most popular item). Because it is not vegan, I have not given it a try. I have heard amazing things from multiple women, though. Most keto coffee recipes give people the shakes and amp them up too hard. I've heard that ItWorks! has perfected the recipe.

I have used the first three products for a little over three months now. Sometimes I am inconsistent and miss servings. However, I match these products with a vegan diet (mostly whole foods based) and 3-4 days of exercise. I do not have drastic results but I have lost a little over ten pounds and feel great each day. I plan to remain a customer with this company (I have Greens on Autoship!).

I feel so blessed to be a Loyal Customer with ItWorks! because I receive up to 40% off and free shipping after three months. Without this discount, I probably never would have given this company a second thought. I highly recommend going that route because, well...

Cover Image Credit: Savanah Garcia | Instagram

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Not Going To Lie, I’m A 'Little-stitious'

Michael Scott showed me that it's okay to think you have the power.

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If you're like me and you've watched "The Office" 7 times all the way through, then you'd remember the episode where Michael Scott hit Meredith with his car. This episode happens to be my favorite because while there are countless lines from all 9 seasons that are very relatable, this episode holds what I believe is the best office quote.

"I'm not superstitious, but I am a little-stitious".

In my eyes, there has never been such a perfect description of myself seen in "The Office", because I'm extremely a little-stitious. However, my little-stitions don't have anything to do with walking under ladders, opening umbrellas indoors or having a black cat cross your path. I wouldn't even say that mine are true superstitions, they're basically me being overly aware of my actions on a certain day and thinking that if I mess up the routine then the world will cave in.

For example, I have a necklace that my sister gave me that I truly believe I have to wear to every day or bad things will happen. And while I've had bad things happen to me while wearing the necklace, I've had worse things happen when I'm not.

Coincidence? Probably. Is that going to stop me from making sure that the necklace is around my neck every day? No.

However, the days where I become the most little-stitious are test days. You don't mess with test days. I have the same PJs that I wear the night before any test, and during finals week if they get washed, it's bad luck. Necklaces on test day also play an important role. On top of the necklace that my sister gave me, I also wear a necklace that my parents got me. A few days before one of my Spanish tests earlier in the semester, the necklace my parents got me unclasped and one of the charms fell off. When I realized that in class, my first thought was… "I'm going to fail my Spanish test on Friday if I don't find it". I retraced all my steps and finally found it lying outside the door to my room. I passed my Spanish test.

The morning of a Spanish test is different than any other test. I have to listen to Spanish music. However, the day of my Spanish final, I forgot. And while I didn't fail the test, it was my lowest test grade of the semester.

The issue with a lot of my little-stitions is that everyone thinks that it really just comes down to coincidence. And if I'm being quite honest, they probably are. But that doesn't change the fact that in my mind I believe that the only way I'm acting as my 100% best self, is when I follow my routines. They bring me good luck because even though I've done pretty bad on some tests when I've worn the necklaces, worn my hair in a bun, worn the PJs the night before, worn black socks, I didn't fail. Even tests that I truly believe I did fail, I still got by on. Days where I've sat in my room crying, I realize that I'm not wearing my necklace, so I put it on and everything gets a little brighter.

There's nothing wrong with having a little-stitions, because even if in the end they don't truly make a difference, they do in my mind. Without my little-stitions, I don't think that I would wake up every morning and be prepared to start the day.

Or maybe my necklace and clothes just have magical powers? I haven't ruled that out yet.

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