Confused American in Aisle 7

I would not say that I am missing home, but I will say that I am missing the ease of grocery shopping and ordering food for myself at a cafe or restaurant.  I know that this is a bizarre thing to miss, but it is true.  Grocery shopping is very different here than it is in the U.S.  One of the biggest things that is so strange to me is the fact that you have to buy a shopping bag.  I guess I really took for granted those plastic Walmart bags back home.  Additionally, there are only very limited options at the two local grocery stores that we shop at.  It is no “super” market for sure and I am finding the options there to be getting old already and it is only week three.

Another difference is the language barrier (I know, huge shock!).  Well, this is very difficult for me as I was the person back in the U.S. who was constantly reading labels to see exactly what I was putting into my body.  Here, I can say that I do not even know what I am buying half the time.  For example, myself and a few other friends all bought a bottle of what we thought was olive oil.  The label on this bottle had a picture of olive oil, so who would have thought otherwise.  After returning home, we soon realized that this was in fact vinegar.

I am very conscious of my food and nutrition not only because I typically try to maintain a healthy diet, but also because I have several allergies and dietary restrictions.  The two main ones being milk and peanuts.  This especially makes food shopping and eating out a huge challenge.  I can attest that just knowing the word for peanuts and milk is simply not enough.  Luckily, I have only ran into an issue once, and the consequences were not severe.

I have found the language barrier to also be bad when ordering food.  Vietnamese is very popular here and a common ingredient is peanuts, peanut oil and peanut sauce.  I have been unfortunate to have been the one American who has ran into all the non-English speakers at restaurants.  One time, a waiter thought that I wanted peanuts to be added to my meal.  So, restaurants are never an easy experience for me.

I will say, though that take the language barrier away and the food here is actually very good and fairly cheap.  I am also learning from my mistakes, and feel much more confident eating here.