Food is Love, Food is Life: Diary of a foodie in Sharjah
This blog is written by our foodie in house, Mahamed Barzanji from the University of Illinois at Chicago:
Hello future UAE-study-abroad humans! My name is Mahamed Barzanji and I am a food expert when it comes to how much you will be spending on food while here at AUS. First things first: are you always hungry like me? Is planning your next meal while eating your current meal a usual occurrence? If yes: I’ve got all the answers you need in this blog right here. From free foods, cheap foods, to must try foods even if they are expensive foods; I will cover them all. Also University city houses so many restaurants that it’s hard to decide what to get, so I will be sharing with you my favorite places to order from while doing your late night studies. Grab a bag of chips (or carrots if that's your choice of poison) and read along!
1) Campus Foods
American University of Sharjah has a lot of foods that will remind you of home such as: Burger King, Subway, Starbucks and Subway. But Breakpoint is the food place that’s been buzzing during my semester abroad. Breakpoint serves made-by-momma feeling soul food and Chinese-style food. This is the place where group project meeting are usually held while eating a nice Nutella Cheesecake. Most meals are only 20 AED, which is like 5 bucks so it’s super affordable, too!
And it’s super easy to cool yourself off during the hotter days with 1 AED cones from Burger King. Can't stress how handy these were during the summer months.
2) Campus Grocery Stores
The Sharjah Co-Op Society is, in my opinion, the cheapest place to have a meal… even if it may not be a so healthy one. There are two on campus: one near the Men’s dorm and one near the Women’s dorm. Here you can fulfill your everyday grocery needs, or like me, get a long pack of Oreos, a cheese croissant, and two iCafe drinks for about 10 AED in total. Seriously, the days that I just had barely enough money to survive this place would be my home.
But of course, you can still be healthy at the Co-Op! They have baby carrots and cucumbers that are usually fresh daily and meats that you can microwave back at the dorms.
It also has anything else you think you’d need from school supplies to toiletries. Think of it as your Walgreens away from home.
And if you’re worried about eating healthy, don't be. I actually went vegan for two days while abroad and it was super easy (don't ask me why). Near campus is a huger Sharjah Co-Op that is similar to Wal-Mart. There, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables as far as the eye can see. There is a free shuttle on campus that can take you there as well.
3) Foods around Campus – Orderable
Musk is my absolute favorite place to grab a bite and it’s only a walk away from campus. This place is not as cheap as other options but it is by no means expensive. My friends and I come here so often that the workers and cooks know us on sight. A usual meal here would cost around 35 AED.
Something that you ABSOLUTELY MUST try at Musk is the Maybe Nutella Monster Chocolate Shake: It is a sweet tooth’s lover heaven. They can even deliver the shake too!
But when it comes to delivery, the winner is Al Shamayil. This place is super cheap and sells a combination of Arab dishes and Indian dishes. I always go for the Poratas or Arabic Shawarma because they are super fulfilling yet easy on the wallet.
Just like Musk, this place is only a walk away on Karak Street where most of University cities food places are held.
Other honorable mentions are Al Nawaier Al Shamiah and New Emirates Home. These places have delicious Rocket Shawarmas and to die for Mendi (rice and meat).
4) Free Food
Man oh man… The amount of opportunities to eat free food during my semester here was out of this world. My favorite week of food was the AUS Club Fair, where all the clubs would bring out their cultures signature dishes and serve them for free in the Student’s Center. Be careful not to go overboard like I did, or else you’ll find that your jeans don't fit anymore.
The IXO office at AUS always brings out donuts on every study abroad student’s birthday, and when the amount of students studying abroad is about 50, it will start to feel like there’s donuts at IXO 24/7.
IXO not only provides free donuts on birthdays, but the amazing staff also brings in pizza or rice with chicken every now and then.
IXO also takes you on plenty of free dinners and engagements with free food (and this is on top of what CIEE is providing) so I doubt you’ll ever be starving for a decent meal.
5) CIEE-Provided Food
Your CIEE Resident Director will not give you the chance to starve, for he will feed you and provide food in his office as if it were the holiday’s everyday. I am truly thankful for having Abu Bakr Al Ani as an adviser but also as a friend because friends don't let friends get hungry.
There’s this thing called CIEE Tuesdays, it might be on a different day for other semesters but the end goal is the same. You will be fed. Abu Bakr is a guy who knows where to get the hidden food-gems and the cultural foods that you’d otherwise not get the chance to try will feed you. Of course you won’t only eat because there will be an activity but to a food junkie like me… the food is all that matters.
Abu Bakr also provides snacks, teas and coffees in his office at all times. So if you’re ever in a rush to class and don't have time for breakfast, drop by his office and he’ll surely have some goods that’ll satisfy your hunger. His instant coffees were lifesavers during hectic mornings and stressful evenings.
And PSA: Snacks are snacks, not meals. It took me awhile to learn that but it was eventually drilled into my skull.
Now that you’ve read my blog on the foods available to you at AUS, what will your next meal be?
Young and Hungry,