One of the best things about traveling abroad is getting to do what the locals do! Eating what they eat, shopping where they shop and doing the things they enjoy. In China these ordinary things can be really interesting and you'll have awesome experiences if you immerse yourself.
One of my favorite things to do in China was simply walking around the grocery store. There were always new things to try and weird things to be found. Here are some things you can expect!
- New Fruit
- Delicious Candy
- American Classics
- Chinese Treats
- TONS of Rice
In the fruit section of grocery stores you can find some of the most incredible and unique fruit, many with names you've never even heard of! Fresh mangos, huge jackfruits, sweet mangosteen and ripe coconuts are plentiful! There are so many new fruits to try you better get started ASAP! ** Don't let the smell scare you away from that section. Durian is a fruit you will find in most stores and has a pretty terrible rotten smell. Try it out, it tastes better than it smells!
You'll also find fruit that's more familiar to you in just about every market. Although ILP provided me with 3 meals per day, I often purchased my own fruit at the market because I wanted more of it in my diet. Apples or bananas and peanut butter were my best friend in China and I was always able to find those things there.
I'm drooling. Really Chinese candy is so good and really diverse. There are tons of different fruity gummys, hard candies and chocolates to try. They are really unique to China! Start trying early on in your semester so you can find your favorites and enjoy them throughout your time in China! Ever try Pocky before?
P.S. Treats are an awesome (and cheap) gift to bring home for friends and family.
A lot of stores you visit will have American sections. You can find things like Goldfish Crackers, Chocolate Pudding Cups, Snickers, Doritos, Frosted Flakes, and American Peanut Butter. It varies by store so scope out your local stores to see if it has some of the American foods you might be missing!
China also has tons of Oreos with a Chinese twist. Green Tea, Peach/Mango, Vanilla Ice cream and Blueberry/Grape are just a few of the delicious flavors. American Classic made even better.
Yes, you're going to find foods that are totally foreign to you (you are on the other side of the world aren't you?). Don't let this terrify you. I promise, no one is going to force you to eat a chicken foot. But you definitely can try one if you're up for the adventure!
Personally, I think this was the coolest part about the stores. In China everyone eats rice EVERY DAY. That's a lot of rice! It's a huge staple. In stores you can buy your rice in bulk so you never run out. There are huge boxes of rice that you can scoop out of and there are usually several different types. It's magical honestly.
ILP volunteers won't need to purchase rice...ever. You're definitely going to get your fill from the cafeteria where your meals are provided, it's just so interesting to see how locals do it.
Are you ready to spend a semester abroad volunteering and traveling around China?! Click below to learn more about what is waiting for you!