Dietary Concerns

Studying globally with special dietary concerns may seem to be a daunting task especially when the cuisine and diet of your possible host country is unknown to you. However, students with a wide variety of dietary restrictions have studied globally all over the world. In the planning stages, it is important to consider your needs when making your program choice and the comfort level you have regarding the opportunities available at your chosen program.

The key is to plan as much in advance as possible. Ask your CGE advisor about possible program options, contact your program to see if there are any options available for your special needs. Some programs include meals and you will need to disclose your dietary needs on your housing form. At other programs, you will be responsible for your own meals and you should contact your program about the possibilities of obtaining the necessary foodstuffs at local market. Find out exactly how to say the word “vegetarian,” "kosher,"  “I don’t eat meat (cheese, wheat, etc)”, or "I'm allergic to (nuts, dairy, etc) in your local language so as to not cause confusion or disappointment in public restaurants. All students will be trying new foods and this will also be true for students with dietary needs. Be prepared for finding few alternative options in your host country that fit within your dietary needs.  You may need to think about bringing some specialty items for nutritional health, as your health is linked to how you deal with many things while abroad.

Once you've arrived, communicate clearly with your host family or roommates of what your needs mean, as your needs may not exist where you are, or are interpreted differently (meats vs. fish vs. eggs). Try to have an explanation ready (religious, medical, etc.) as some people understand very little about what being a vegetarian (or being kosher/halal/gluten-free,etc) entails. All of these preparations will prevent the awkward moment of having to turn down a nicely cooked meal at a family or group dinner.