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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We ALL Have Some Kind Of Disability, Even If We Don't Acknowledge It

Sometimes we fail to recognize our disabilities simply because we have learned to live with them; yet, we criticize those who have visible disabilities even though they too have learned to live with them.
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Many of us have probably heard the famous saying: "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

What many of us probably don’t realize is how true this may be in our own lives.

Everyone has something that may disable them from doing things that others can do.

Disabilities can be physical or mental. Maybe you have asthma, a speech impediment or a phobia. While these things may disable individuals from doing certain tasks, these are all disabilities that one can learn to easily live with.

Other disabilities are more visibly noticeable, such as limb amputations, lung diseases that require one to use an oxygen concentrator or scoliosis.

Regardless of how visible our disabilities may be, we need to recognize that we all have things that may disable us.

Notice that I said, “may disable us.” This is where "turning lemons into lemonade" comes into play. Just because something has the potential to disable us doesn’t mean that we must let it do so.

Yes, there will be things that we may be physically unable to do regardless of how hard we try. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot find ways to adapt. Humans can be stubborn and that’s not a bad thing.

Stubbornness may allow us to overcome our disabilities.

My grandmother had three amputation surgeries last summer, the last being a below-knee amputation. I have quickly learned where my stubbornness comes from as I have watched her recover.

She has quickly learned to adapt to the new methods she must use to do daily tasks such as moving around the house.

My grandmother has learned how to live her life as if nothing has changed; it is as if she does not even have a disability.

It is easy to see that my uncle, David, is physically different than the average person. His Down Syndrome causes him to be shorter, and he has distinct facial characteristics that differ from the average person.

What you may also notice, if you meet David, is that he doesn’t let these physical differences dictate his life. If you asked him, David wouldn’t know that anything is different with himself. It’s not that he has been sheltered from the fact that he is different.

He simply has learned how to live with his differences and has family members that are willing to support him.

One of my friends has Spina Bifida and, sadly, has faced unjust situations because of their disabilities. As a college student, it is very difficult for my friend to find transportation to classes.

One transportation company will only provide their services when an individual lives 500 feet from a bus stop; unfortunately, my friend does not.

Nevertheless, my friend is resilient and is taking online courses so that they may further their education.

I dare to say that everyone has something that may disable them. However, I also dare to say that many individuals do not recognize their disabilities simply because they have learned to adapt.

If everyone has something that may disable them, why do we criticize those whose disabilities are more visible?

I challenge you to reflect on your own life. Reflect on the things that may disable you. Reflect on how you have overcome the things that try to disable you. Reflect upon the judgment that you have unjustly given others due to their disabilities.

It is easy to laugh at someone else when they are struggling with something that we could easily do ourselves. But it is difficult when we are the ones being laughed at.

The next time you consider criticizing someone else because of their disabilities, remember that you, too, have things that may disable you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Whatever (Or Whoever) Rejects You Makes You Stronger

College and rejection go hand in hand.

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It happens every time: the same sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach while your eyes skim over the words "We regret to inform you…" or "We are unable to admit you at this time". Rejection comes in many forms, whether it be in the opening lines of a depressing email or in the simple lack of your name on a list that you knew you should have been on. It never gets easier to look at these supposed failures on your part; you never realize how easy it is to blame yourself for not getting onto a cast list for a play or into a certificate program for your major (both scenarios I have gone through this past month) until you start questioning why you weren't good enough.

For me, high school was relatively rejection-free. I breezed through auditions for the school musicals and got the parts I wanted. I got into all of the colleges I applied to except for one. Both of my prom dates for junior and senior year were settled quickly and without hassle. I certainly had my fair share of disappointments and drama throughout my high school years, but for the activities I was most passionate about, I found myself to be doing pretty well.

Of course, college life tends to show you a sneak peek of the real world, and I certainly received my wake-up call. Suddenly I was applying to leadership positions and auditioning for musicals at college and swiftly getting turned down. Needless to say, I was discouraged. What am I doing wrong? I asked myself after I wasn't called back for a role in a play I really wanted. Am I not good enough? The adjustment from doing well in the proverbial "small pond" of high school to seemingly failing in the "big pond" of a major university was something I struggled with freshman year and something I still struggle with.

With each rejection, whether it be from a director, a club, or even a boy over text, I felt disappointed, angry, and sad. But rejection tends to help us more than harm us, even if we don't believe it in the moment. With each rejection came a new opportunity for me: where I may have been involved in a musical, I found a really awesome music group to be a part of. Where I may have gotten into a certificate program, through my rejection, I got an opportunity to write for the school paper. I realize now that rejection opens the doors we ignored when putting our sole focus on something else. Rejection doesn't break us down; it makes us stronger.

So, to all of the college students out there feeling ready to give up after hearing yet another "no", don't. A "yes" may be just around the corner.

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