Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Cultural Cuisine: Eating Your Way Around the World

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Writer and traveler Deborah Cater once said, “You have to taste culture to understand it”—and she wasn’t wrong. When you go to a foreign country and choose to eat only foods you are familiar with then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Traveling is all about trying new things—and food is one of the most important ones. In China, there are so many unique local dishes to try so you shouldn’t let fear of the unknown get in the way of experiencing the country like the locals do.

Sure we’ve all gone to our local Chinese takeout place and have ordered the pork Lo Mein or General Tso Chicken, but if you take the time to explore the country you’ll find non-Americanized Chinese food that’s definitely worth a try.

One of the most popular dishes to try if you find yourself in Beijing is the Peking Duck. This famous dish has been prepared since the imperial era and is served with steamed pancakes and eaten with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce. Traditionally the meat is sliced thin by the cook right in front of you, which is definitely fun to watch. Two of the most notable restaurants are Quanjude and Bianyifang in Beijing, China.

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A chef prepares to carve a Peking Duck.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

 

We all know that Italy is famous for their pasta; but did you know that the world’s oldest known noodles were actually discovered along the Yellow River in China? Dating back to roughly 4000 years BP, noodles have been a staple food in China—and watching hand pulled noodles being made is definitely something to go see if you visit. Hand pulled noodles, or Lamian, is made by stretching and folding the dough into strands. This unique method of making noodles originated in China and dates back to 1504. Lamian literally means pull or stretch, lā, (拉), noodle, miàn (麵) and watching a professional noodle chef pull noodles is a tourist attraction in itself!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

Whether you’re traveling to China, or any other country, make sure that if you have food allergies you are well prepared. The chefs know what ingredients they use to prepare their food with and a language barrier shouldn’t stop you from being safe. Having a restaurant card is a great way to stay safe, and still be able to enjoy many of the delicious unique foods available. The card clearly states in another language the types of food you are not allowed to eat and your servers and chefs can take it from there.

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Also, take the time to find out if the water is safe to drink in your country of origin. Often times it’s just easier to choose to drink only bottled water for the duration of your stay. You know it’s clean and safe, and you definitely don’t want to get sick while studying abroad!

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Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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College Savings Experience by Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
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Photo op with some monks my friends and I met on the Great Wall of China.

I like chicken soup. Wǒ xǐhuān jītāng.

It’s probably one of the only phrases I learned to say correctly in Mandarin while studying abroad in China and it still makes me laugh one year later.

No matter what college you go to, even if it’s only a few psychology courses online, everyone should go on a study abroad program at least once in their lifetime. Study abroad is a rite of passage and the college discounts you get is worth the experience. It’s the ability to say that during your young adult life you did something different and learned about a new place. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go. What’s important is that you get out, see the world, and learn about a country that isn’t America.

One of the best benefits of studying abroad is that your early 20s is the best time to travel. Besides school, and maybe a part-time job, you don’t have that many obligations. Once you’re working the 9-5 grind you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to snag any vacation days right away. Studying abroad provides you with a way to get college credits without sitting in a classroom for an entire semester. Study abroad programs usually offer a variety of courses that range from common core classes to specific credits that can be used towards your major.

Studying abroad through your school is a great way to make friends that will be there after the trip. Most of the people that go on study abroad trips go to the same school. It’s very easy to form close friendships in a short amount of time on these trips. Walking across campus and seeing a familiar face is always a nice surprise in the middle of a hectic day.

 

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New friendships only grow stronger after hours of hiking the Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in the southern Anhui province in eastern China.

People don’t just travel because of the boredom from living in the same place. People travel because they thirst to see something new. It’s one thing to see a picture of a famous landmark; it’s quite another to actually see that landmark with your own eyes. Ask anyone that’s ever traveled anywhere, or ask anyone with a smartphone camera; no photo or Instagram filter can truly ever beat the real thing. When you go home and change your profile picture on Facebook to a picture of yourself standing on the Great Wall of China—that’s something to brag about.

To learn about a culture that is foreign from your own is a truly important experience. There are so many different cultures in the world that it is impossible to count. To go through life ignorant of the world around you is a foolish mistake. Hear a different language slide past your lips. Eat a food that you can’t identify. Engross yourself in a way of living that you’ve never experienced.

A study abroad trip is more than just a trip. It’s a chance to take an adventure, fill a scrapbook with memories, and tell stories to your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

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Group picture of the 2013 Summer CUNY China trip in front of the Monk Xuanzang statue in Xi’an, China.

Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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The Melody Of Unexpected Rhythm

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Angela M

Illustration By Tao Zao

I grew up on Disney and nightly walks with my Russian grandparents, sunflower seeds sticking to my fingers, old lady tales dripping from my ears like borscht. I was never told not to smile at a cute Asian boy, or to repress a casual wink at a dashing Spaniard.

Maybe I was never told to not do these things because: 1) I don’t smile often, and 2) I can barely wink. Regardless, there was never any objection to multicultural friendships. Romantically speaking, though, it was never really spoken about, perhaps because it was never really expected.
My first legitimate ounce of interest in the opposite sex could have something to do with my current situation.
I was in the first grade, and his name was Timothy. He was everything I wanted in a boy. He never spoke to me; he rarely, if ever, held the staircase door open for me; and he cheated on me. I don’t know whether it counts as cheating if we were never in a relationship, but my heart was temporarily in shambles. Did I mention that Timothy was Asian? Did I also mention that I’m white and Jewish and from Brooklyn?
At 22, and not a bit less romantic than my first grade self, I find my heart taken once again (this time, in a less make-believe type of way). I am in love with a writer who just so happens to be outside of my race. Raised Muslim but not practicing, my Indian love connects himself with the folk of Jackson Heights, Queens before anything else. To sum things up, not only am I dating a fellow who’s a hundred beautiful shades darker than my pastey self, but I am also dating someone outside of my borough.
We met at a house party. His band was playing, and I later on learned that he had asked our mutual friend to invite me, since he was too shy to do it himself. The night felt like something taken out of one of those typical teenage movies where the girl seems to be playing coy, not realizing what’s going on, and the guy is fumbling over every other word, crossing his fingers that he doesn’t look as dumb as he feels. It took me half the party to realize that I was falling heavy over someone who I had never expected to come across.
Surprisingly, my mother was more accepting of my new found love than some of my friends. When I say some, I really just mean one. My Jewish friend Rebecca* was stunned to realize that I was romantically involved with someone so far from my religion. I kept it secret from her for as long as I could, afraid of the very reaction that I got. She started telling me that being a Jew meant that I was part of the chosen ones, and how keeping religion alive in my family was imperative. Basically, she made me feel like the black sheep of the herd. A day after her attack, she apologized wholeheartedly and told me that I have her full support in any decision that I make in life. (I can only imagine how Rebecca’s reaction would have been if I had confessed that I was getting married!) Just to be clear, I consider myself Jewish more in terms of culture than practice. Echoing Keats, “Love is my religion.”
In a city where love has an astigmatism and hearts beat to their own bongo, interracial coupling is more common than ever. Every way my head turns, I see it: hands of different colors holding on to each other. It’s beautiful, really. And now, I am part of it. We grew up hearing different languages being spoken at home, eating foods synonymous to our cultures, but we were also scolded by our parents for leaving cookie crumbs in our beds, and watching too many T.V. shows instead of doing our homework. Plenty of people in college date people who they didn’t expect to be with. We aren’t really all that different, though. We both love literature and writing, we listen to the same type of music, and, obviously, we both enjoy a good house party.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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