Ethnic Grocery Stores Are The Best

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.


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.


A Minority College Student

Popular Right Now

A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.

Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Nike Controversy that Makes no Sense

Nike has been facing backlash recently, for reasons I just cannot understand.


Nike recently released a plus sized workout clothing line, equipped with beautiful plus size mannequins to advertise their brand. Instead of many in the fitness community rejoicing in this milestone, Nike is facing criticism because people believe that Nike is portraying unhealthy weight standards to their customers.

These individuals believe that the size that is portrayed by Nike's mannequins is obese, and as a result, is telling others that being a size like that is okay. Yet, the mannequins that are usually portrayed in Nike's stores, rarely represent body types of real people.

As I read these comments, I thought to myself – are these people crazy? Think about the men and women who have spent months, maybe even years, trying to lose enough weight just to fit into Nike's plus sized brand! As well, bigger women deserve clothes to work out in. It should not matter if they are "obese" they are working towards a healthier lifestyle.

The backlash being faced by Nike is the mentality that prevents many from even joining a gym. I can completely understand the fear an individual experiences when entering the gym, surrounded by people who look like fitness gods, and you feel like everybody is judging you. As if you do not belong in a gym.

I will never understand how creating more barriers for individuals will motivate others to exercise. In my own opinion, attractive workout clothes are more than enough to motivate me to get to the gym!

Do not let the mentality of fat-shaming, and others fear of a little jiggle prevent you from flaunting Nike's new style, and creating a healthier lifestyle for you

Related Content

Facebook Comments