The real thrill of homestay when studying abroad is that you can experience the natural life of the area. Of course, if you do a homestay, you will be eating with your host family, so you will be able to enjoy the general meals that the locals eat. However, humans also have likes and dislikes. What should I do if there is something I can’t eat, or if it appears on the table?
When I was a student, I experienced homestay as an international student, and I also worked as a homestay coordinator. From this experience, I will talk about how to deal with something that cannot be eaten at homestay.
Fill in the application form
You should write down what you can’t eat
When applying for a homestay, depending on the company, you may need to fill out a self-introduction form. Ask your host family to choose you by posting a photo of yourself and writing down what you are and what you like.
If you really don’t like something, be sure to include it when you write the form. For example, if you have an allergy that you cannot eat, you must write it. If you can eat it with effort, you can say “I can’t eat it”, but if you never want to eat it, you can write “because you are allergic”.
I’m not good at shrimp, some shellfish, and paste products. First of all, since the paste products are unique to Japan, I have never filled out the form because I thought that they were not overseas.
Regarding shrimp and shellfish, I thought it depends on where I go. If you don’t eat seafood, you don’t need to write it, and if you eat a lot of seafood, such as San Francisco, I think it’s better to write it. You may. Certainly, if you write seafood, it will include seafood in general, but if you write what you can eat and what you can not eat, you may think that it is “troublesome”, so roughly I remember filling it out.
The reason why you should write
This is a story I actually heard from my host family, who said, “I’d appreciate it if you wrote something you couldn’t eat.” This is because it is still difficult for international students to eat what they cannot eat if they like it.
Also, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should write that as well. It is not easy for vegetarian international students to have a homestay in a meat-eating family. For vegetarians and vegans, it would be more stressful for a similar host family to accept the student. Therefore, it is better to fill in the meal as much as possible.
What if you got something you cannot eat?
You can just avoid it
However, it’s a common story that something I don’t like has come out. What should I do in such a case?
If you find something you can’t eat, avoid it. It is generally said, “If you have resistance, try eating a bite.” When something comes out that you haven’t seen before, don’t hate it without eating it. However, if you find something that you can’t eat, you can avoid it.
Don’t say “I don’t like it”
If you are asked why you don’t eat it, just say that you can’t eat it in the first place. However, there is a point in how to answer.
In Japan, it is thought that “foreigners clearly say their likes and dislikes”, and it is taught that “let’s answer” I don’t like it “for things that cannot be eaten.” But never answer this way. Even if you don’t like the ingredients that appear on the table, there is a problem with this answer.
What if others tell you the same thing when you cook?
Please think about it. When I cook a meal for an international student and put it on the table, why don’t I just click when I suddenly say “I don’t like this”? The expression “dislike” or “don’t like” is very strong, so it would be rude to the person who made it. It’s just hate, which is a literal translation of the word dislike.
If you can’t eat something, say “I can’t eat this”. You can translate the expression “inedible” directly. Don’t translate the phrase dislike. If you are told that you can’t eat, you should understand that the other person is also a human being.
Troubles they might get into
They hesitate to open the fridges
When you do a homestay, your host family may ask you to “divide into refrigerator lovers” and “if you have something you want to eat or drink, feel free to do it.” However, there are many international students who cannot give up the feeling of “refrigerator in another person’s house”, cannot open the refrigerator, and cannot even drink water even if their throat is dry.
Certainly, even if you are doing a homestay, it is natural that you cannot open the refrigerator and take out what you want to eat from the first day because it is the house of another person. But you don’t have to put up with it if you’re hungry or thirsty.
In that case, ask your host family, “Can I open the refrigerator?” Then you will be told, “You can be free” and “You don’t have to ask that.” Then open the fridge and when you find something, ask “Can I eat this?” Or “Can I drink this?”
For example, if it is prepared as a food ingredient for dinner, you may be told, “Oh, that’s dinner, so don’t eat it.” However, it tells you that you are hungry, so you are more likely to get a replacement. Also, you will probably be told that you can drink juice and milk freely, so if you say it once, you can drink it freely from the next time.
They can’t say “I’m full”
The host family warmly welcomes international students from Japan. And you may be able to serve a lot of food and drinks. However, that’s why I often hear that I couldn’t say “I’m full” and ate until I felt uncomfortable.
Depending on the family, some people may serve more and more food. But when you’re full, tell them that. When asked “Do you still eat?”, If you say “Yeah” instead of saying that you are full, it can be a big deal.
Some people say that they have eaten so much that they feel sick and have to take stomach medicine later, or that they are sick. When you’re full, you don’t have to put up with it. You never have to worry about hurting or offending your host family, so don’t hesitate to say so when you’re full.
May you should just try it
If you do a homestay abroad, you may find ingredients that you have never seen before. I also had a moment of confusion when I was given a boiled egg called ballot just before hatching.
But if you have no idea what it is or what it tastes like, take a bite. If you eat and think “this is impossible”, you can tell that you can’t eat it.