When I entered my first year at high school – already a new and uncertain time – my mother told me and my sister that our family would start hosting international university students. I thought it would be a fun experience and, having grown up with immigrant parents, I was no stranger to the joys of diversity. At the same time, I was a little bit nervous too. Would I be able to create an authentically American experience for these students? Would they enjoy my home and family?
The day Yuki (our first student) arrived, we tried to make sure she would be as comfortable as possible. Thinking it wouldn’t suit her taste, we didn’t eat our usual traditional Persian food for dinner; we ordered pizza instead. During dinner, we learned that Yuki had never been outside of Japan but that she was excited and open to learning about her new surroundings and broadening her horizon. I quickly saw how kind and understanding she was and that I shouldn’t have worried about her not liking our home. In fact, she told us she wanted to try Persian food, which surprised and pleased us at the same time.
In the coming weeks, we showed Yuki our city. I pointed out the best tofu house, my favorite boba shop, and my high school hangout spot. Though Yuki went back to Japan after finishing her semester abroad, we were fortunate enough to receive many more intriguing students. Hitomi, Miyuki, Tomomi, and Mae, among others, became part of our household and constituted an important part of growing up for me. From them, I learned how things I had previously saw as ordinary were actually quite extraordinary – Miyuki, for example, was thrilled that we had a grill in our backyard. She snapped countless pictures of this grill, something I had seen as a standard household item. She explained that where she lived in Japan, houses and backyards were often too small for such features. Likewise, Hitomi introduced me to the Bath and Body Works store. With its varied and delightfully-scented cosmetic items, I am forever thankful.
Singapore is a melting pot. Once dubbed by a friend as “culturally confused,” it’s an island with a population of over 5 million people, almost half of which are foreign nationals, thus allowing numerous cultures to thrive together in one city-state. Despite having very little land area in comparison to other countries (I was told by a local that Malaysia to the north is sometimes referred to as “elder brother” because of its size), Singapore has four official languages—Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil. While the majority of the population is Chinese Singaporean, there are significant Malay and Indian communities. Walking into different areas of the city, a person is immersed in one culture after another, with places like Little India being a significant tourist attraction.
Little India has its origins in the 1800’s; it started out as an area to raise cattle and was thusly the place where Europeans (mostly) would gather. Soon, after an Indian population emerged, various religious landmarks (such as Hindu temples and mosques), as well as businesses, started to appear. Today, Little India is a vibrant area with various influences that excite the senses. Visitors have several options for lodging, including hostels and hotels. Most choices are very cheap, but there’s a “you get what you pay for” mentality, meaning that the hotels in the area aren’t of the highest quality. Even if travelers stay somewhere else, this neighborhood is still worth visiting.
No matter where you come from, I think most people can agree that the one thing we all have in common is our undeniable love for food. Whether you’re a health nut or a junk food addict, everyone has certain foods that they cannot help but crave. Seeing that this a worldwide phenomenon, the City of Los Angeles has rewarded us with our own slice of food paradise. Enter in DineLA’s Restaurant Week!!!
At least twice a year, DineLA showcases LA dining at its best by offering unbelievably discounted prices for restaurants all over the city. From July 13th until July 26th, LA residents have the amazing opportunity to frequent the best and fanciest restaurants LA has to offer, and for sometimes half the price. The restaurants range from steakhouses, to Dim Sum, to Mediterranean cuisine, to so much more.