Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2017 Summer Issue]>Start of Halal Food Brings Happiness to Foreign Students

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Start of Halal Food Brings Happiness to Foreign Students

Isabelle Ondreya Sua
3rd-Year Student in the Faculty of Letters

Halal foods are now sold on the Tama Campus of Chuo University.
The Chuo University Student Affairs Office increased the serving of Halal foods from April 10 and made a poster to advertise the sale of Halal foods. Ms. Isabelle Ondreya Sua (3rd-year student from Malaysia in the Faculty of Letters) is overjoyed at the availability of foods which offer a taste of home country.

Using the bi-fold fork included in the food container, Isabelle took a big bite—“Delicious!” she said with a big smile. More than three years have passed since Isabelle came to Japan. “I was never homesick,” she says, “but I did experience food shock.”

One Halal food which Isabelle had wanted to eat was instant noodles (cup ramen) made in her home country. Her heart beat fast the moment that she saw the familiar logo of the food manufacturer Mamee.

“I often took these noodles when I went camping and had fun eating them with my friends,” recalls Isabelle. She pointed to the red pepper printed on the label and said “I like this Tom Yum Flavor.” She also savored the familiar flavor of beef consommé Halal crackers.

In Islamic law, the word of halal literally means “permissible.” According to Islamic precepts, Halal foods are free from substances including alcohol and pork-derived extracts and gelatin. Halal are also manufactured using edible oils which have not been genetically modified.

Halal foods served at Chuo University have been approved by the Japan Muslim Association for safety and peace of mind. The Student Affairs Office advertises Halal foods as follows: Halal foods can be purchased by anyone. We encourage you to try Halal foods from the perspective of international understanding.

In April of last year, the Student Affairs Office started serving Halal-certified curry (Student Co-op Cafe Terrace, Hilltop 2F) and received overwhelming positive response. The recent expansion in Halal foods is intended to satisfy the growing diversity of students and foreign students.

“I’m so happy to have enrolled at Chuo University.”—Isabelle gave the highest praise after Halal foods were made available on campus (Leaf Cafe in the C Square Building).
“Once I saw the poster and learned that more Halal foods are now sold, I was so excited that I told my friends from G Square that Halal foods are available,” says Isabelle. The good news spread rapidly among foreign students. Since her second year at university, Isabelle has worked at G Square as a staff member and expanded her personal network.

Culture of mutual respect

Wide variety of Halal foods

According to the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islam is the most prevalent religion in Malaysia at 61%, followed by Buddhism at 20% and Christianity at 9%. Although Muslims make up the majority of the country, religion is not strictly enforced.

As a Christian, Isabelle works to promote mutual understanding and harmony with other religions. The country of Malaysia itself cooperates with adjacent countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Malaysia is home to a variety of ethnicities such as Malay, Chinese, and Indian.

“Ever since I was a child, I have believed that people of different religions should show mutual respect,” explains Isabelle. “Some of my best friends are Muslims. Of course, I never serve any foods containing pork at parties. I also learned from my friends that I shouldn’t use a frying pan that was previously used to cook pork. At parties, we all enjoy eating foods such as chicken or pizza.”

Upon coming to Japan, Isabelle encountered the insularism of Japan. She realized that this temperament is an inherent part of Japanese culture.

Isabelle and Keisuke (right) enjoy Halal foods

Also participating in our interview was Keisuke Hara (3rd-year student in the Faculty of Commerce), a friend of Isabelle’s from G Square.

G Square is a “multicultural exchange space” (Global Lounge) that supports students who seek to expand their international perspective. G Square is based nearer the library on the second floor of Hilltop.

Keisuke wanted to make friends with foreign students and decided to consult with a friend of his friend who worked at G Square.
“I met Isabelle and we naturally became friends,” says Keisuke. “I talk with her just like I would with my Japanese friends. She speaks Japanese very well.”

Keisuke has now made friends with foreign students from Asia, Australia, Europe, and America.
“G Square is the only place to form such relationships,” he says. Keisuke always asks Isabelle for help when he has trouble understanding a conversation with other foreign students.

Keisuke himself will study abroad this summer. He plans to study marketing at Mississippi State University in the U.S. (a Chuo University international partner institution since 2005).
“I hope that he can adjust smoothly to the local people and culture,” says Isabelle, who gives advice from her own experience as a foreign student.

Chuo campus resembles home

“My dream is to become a counselor at an international school,” says Isabelle when explaining why she came to Japan. “I also like children. I hope I can achieve my dream.”

Isabelle was surprised by the robust support for students in the curriculum of the Faculty of Letters at Chuo University. “I came to Chuo University to fulfill my dream. I also like the abundance of nature on campus. I can relax because it feels like home.”

It seems that Isabelle has found the perfect environment for her studies. Halal foods will be another boost as she works to reach her dreams.

New “Japanese-style breakfast”

A Japanese-style breakfast has been newly added to breakfast service at the Leaf Cafe in C Square on the Tama Campus.

The Japanese-style breakfast costs 200 yen and consists of rice, miso soup, natto, an egg (can be changed to a soft boiled egg), and seasoned laver (seaweed). Together with meals such as the existing breakfast set (200 yen for toast, two sausages, and a drink), curry and rice, and udon noodles, the new breakfast supports the diet of students. Breakfast at the Leaf Cafe is served from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM.

The Bakery & Cafe Flat on the second floor of Hilltop sells freshly baked bread and drinks from 8:00 AM.

This new breakfast further increases the choices offered in the “Let’s Eat Breakfast on the Tama Campus” campaign of Chuo University.

Tell me more! —Foreign students at Chuo University

A total of 806 foreign students are enrolled in the six Chuo University faculties, graduate schools, and professional graduate schools (as of May 1, 2017). When ranked by nationality/region, Chinese students compose the greatest number at 554, followed by 97 Korean students, 23 students from Hong Kong, 22 Taiwanese students, and 15 students from Malaysia. Chuo University is also home to hard-working foreign students from countries such as France, Vietnam, Australia, Germany, Indonesia, America, England, Singapore, Thailand, and Canada.