A few weeks before I was set to leave home and start over in Minnesota, I remember I was very depressed about leaving my family and friends. One thing I never thought about was food; how badly I would miss my mother?s dishes, and how food would be a huge part of my culture shock.

Many of you might be wondering why I would be talking about food, and asking if I have forgotten all about McDonald?s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut. Well my dear friends, they might taste good at some point but let me ask you a very critical question: would they still taste as good if you kept eating them every single day for four years? Take a moment and try to answer it.

I don?t know about your culture, but let me tell you something about my Arabic-Islamic-Middle Eastern culture. We do love our food very much.  We do lots of home-cooked dishes: the basmati white & brown rice, spicy chicken breasts that are served in different styles, Dolma, Biryani and of course the delicious meat of lambs. We also don?t go out to eat as much as people in this country do. I remember my mother would be annoyed if we asked my father to take us out.

What do people in America eat? Lots of bacon, ham and sausage, which Muslims don?t eat at all. Pasta is pretty much in every meal. Boiled vegetables - yes they are healthy but I?m afraid not very tasty. Oh, did I forget to put mashed potatoes? Obviously I did. They serve a lot of that. People also eat cereal and milk for dinner! And last but not least fast food, like burgers, fries, chicken tenders, and pizza.

Believe me when I say if you were not familiar with it, you would not like the food served here. I?m not exaggerating when I say that food might make it difficult for you to adjust in this culture. My Italian friend, Paulo went back to Italy because he did not like the food. He did not even like the pizza here. He said it?s very different from the pizza they make in Italy. I saw him eating milk and cereals three times a day until he decided to quit.

I warn you not to take food for granted. And to ask your mother, father, or even sister to teach you how to cook your favorite homemade dish, so you can make it yourself upon arrival to the States.

It took me one semester before I made a call to my mother asking her to teach me how to cook my favorite dish, Biryani. I always thought cooking was a very complicated process  and I really thought it was mission impossible. But now after I have became a master of Biryani, let me tell you something: I?m so proud of myself.

Here's a recipe for Biryani you can try that's very close to what my mom cooks: