|▲ Seo Se-jung and her friend in front of cafeteria Mensa after having a picnic
When I was in Germany as an exchange student, I had many special experiences. Traveling, cooking delicious foods, trying to improve my German speaking, and so on. Among those experiences, today I want to introduce my experience related to the cafeterias at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. I usually cooked for myself and ate at the dormitory. Sometimes I had meals at the university cafeterias called “Mensa” in German. Six “Mensa” are located in various places in the city Jena, where I lived for about one year until this February. Eating in one of the “Mensa” has a merit that I did not have to cook myself and eat alone, but I was able to eat with my friends together. I enjoyed the mood and talking with my friends and I had fun. It was such a good experience.
My First-Time Visiting Mensa
The first cafeteria that I visited was on a street called “Philosophers Road.” That day, unexpectedly, the water was not running in my dormitory. So, I could not cook lunch and I had to visit the cafeteria with one of my flat mates. We chose out of all the places to eat to choose one of the tables that was outside. It was a special experience because eating outside in Korea is not normal, but in Germany, many cafeterias and restaurants offer outside seats.
I chose a dish with rice and curry and paid with my student ID card. Students can eat lunch cheaper than paying cash if they pay with their student cards. There is a price difference between students and non-students. We recharge the card before we use the cafeteria. When I ate the food, it was not as good as I expected. The rice was so dry and the sauce had a racy flavor. I could not eat all of it. I thought that I was going to choose another dish next time.
Best University Cafeteria in the City
I found that “Rosen Mensa” was the best. The appearance of the cafeteria’s entrance did not look like a normal Mensa, but just like a restaurant. Some students did not know that it was a university cafeteria. Non-students also visit there and enjoy their meals. There were many kinds of food such as hamburgers and steak. And with meals, lots of fried potatoes were provided and I liked them.
Even if the price was more expensive than other cafeterias, the food was delicious. Luckily, I got a cafeteria coupon for about 7000won at international student meetings. Using this coupon, I could eat foods for a cheaper price in Rosen Mensa.
Korean Style Food in the Cafeteria
The last cafeteria I visited before I left Jena was placed in the main university building. I heard from my friend from Hong Kong that on the day we were supposed to visit the cafeteria, they were going to serve Korean food. I ordered that dish because I wanted to eat Korean food and I was curious about it. But I was disappointed with the dish which was curry and tofu. That is not original Korean food. The rice was too dry to eat, and the tofu was different to the tofu that we usually eat. My Hong Kong friend asked me whether it was similar to the Korean food that I usually ate. I answered that it was just called “Korean food” even though I had never eaten that type of food before.
I think it is good to try to serve many kinds of foods from different countries in university cafeterias. Because in Jena there are many international students. I hope the university cafeterias will serve better quality Korean style food so that many international students may try it.
By Seo Se-jeong, Junior, Dept. of German Language and Literature