NIU needs closer Asian stores

By Mohammed Taha Faridi

One of the most discouraging problems of being an international student is not getting to eat food from your culture.

With international student enrollment increasing from 847 to 1,090 students from fall 2013 to this semester, Asian restaurants and stores should have a long list of loyal customers. In order to help this growing population, NIU could set up a marketing and business development team to try to attract more Asian stores and give them space in or around the campus to set up their businesses, which would do well with busy students.

Getting food supplies and ingredients is very problematic for Asian students who have restrictions: Some students are vegans and don’t like a single trace of animal product in their food; others want their food spicy and some need strict Halal food.

Indian students try to procure their stuff from Asian stores — elusive in DeKalb — far away on Devon Avenue in Chicago. Becoming a regular customer at the few Asian restaurants around DeKalb becomes expensive.

“It’s a bit difficult for us because we need to go to Devon once in 15 days … we depend on zabiha halal [meat], so we are compelled to go to Devon, which is [a] one-and-half-hour drive, which is difficult for us,” said Sameeuddin Ahmed, graduate electrical engineering student.

The university should try to foster the growing international culture of DeKalb students feel welcome. The university should find space for culturally diverse shops so international students don’t have to travel to the city to purchase supplies just to make homecooked meals.

“We always cook … in our apartment … we usually have so much work here … it’s becoming hard for us to find some Indian food outside,” said Lakhan Raj Patlolla, mechanical engineering graduate student.