Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Scourge (or: America's Leaning on Pork)

Most students don't take care of their diets too well when they move away from home for the first time, but Saudi students, from my experience, REALLY go nuts.

They cram their bodies full of pretty much nothing but sugar, caffeine, and nicotine. (It's a problem in general in Saudi, of course, with diabetes going rapidly off the charts there.)

Here in my job, it was getting to be a serious and immediate problem. Numerous students have been hospitalized for malnutrition, dehydration, and gastric illnesses, due to a diet consisting of pretty much nothing but Red Bull, Mountain Dew, chocolate bars, cigarettes, and potato chips. 

Our students varied from being too hyperactive to sit still and too exhausted to keep their eyes open, and all the teachers were railing at them about it. Numerous lectures about the importance of drinking water and eating healthy food were repeatedly given. 

They made vague excuses. "American food is not delicious." "We don't have time to eat any healthy food." 

Finally one of my students leveled with me. 

It's the pork. 

The students got here and saw all the familiar fast food places they loved: Dominos, Subway, etc. 

And they ordered foods they thought they knew.

But little did they know that these foods were often made with pork in America. Pepperoni and salami, for example. 

"Didn't you ask about it?" I inquired, rather amazed. 

"We didn't speak English well when we arrived. And when we asked the people at Domino's, they always said no pork.")

(Which I guess was probably also ignorance, but coming from a more blissful place.) 

Once they figured this out, and once their English improved, they realized that pork is fucking EVERYWHERE in America. Ham. Bacon. Even salads are full of little chunks of ham and bacon bits. Bacon flavoring in sauces and potato chips!

Certain exceptions are made to the rules of Islam in their lives, to say the least, but most all of them still find the idea of eating pigs really gross. They find pork so revolting, they don't even want to go near restaurants that have it, for fear of cross-contamination. 

You might laugh, but imagine going to a McDonald's in whatever country, and finding out a few months later that the thing you thought was a normal Big Mac was in fact made of sewer rat or liver flukes or something. 


Some Guy in the Philippines said...

To quite frank, whilst having to jump their fucking hoops, lies and bullshit over in the Magic Kingdom, I can't find myself crying too many tears for the precious little darlings.

Anonymous said...

If only we all could have such problems.

And speaking of problems, foreign workers in Saudi
might start being taxed.

englishteacherx said...

Yeah, it doesn't surprise me. They were already stripping benefits out of contracts when I left in 2012. I think I got one of the last high-dollar low-work oil company jobs; pretty much all those guys I worked with have been laid off and the jobs outsourced.