Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and this is my first blog post, so no judgment! I’m a junior studying journalism and professional communication at a small university that’s “north of ordinary.” I’m from a small town in New Brunswick, Canada, and let me tell you something, I couldn’t wait to graduate high school, pack my bags and be out on my own.
I was super pumped about leaving home. To try and make that easier, during my last semester in high school, the guidance counselor would meet with us and have sessions about “how to prepare for college and university.” Yeah, those didn’t help one bit. When I came to university my first year, I didn’t feel the slightest prepared.
Many people have been a freshman once and have had the college experience but it could have been smoother and easier if they’d been more prepared. But what about those seniors in high school? Who is going to help them find their way? Have no fear, I’m here to educate, tell stories and give tips on how to survive the first year of college. :)
When you first arrive at college, if you live on campus, you’ll have to have a meal plan. Each university is different, but at my school you can choose from either 10 meals a week with $150 extra on your card, 14 meals with an extra $100 or 18 meals with $100. You really need to choose wisely, because if you run out of meals, then you’re going to have to use your card to pay for a meal or go out to eat.
If you’re like me and didn’t know anyone going to the university you planned on attending, you won’t get a heads up on the cafeteria food. I remember my first day walking into the cafe: there was a nice man named Wiz there to greet me and scan my ID card. I walked around with my new friend Jamie, scoping out the situation. The set-up seemed perfect: a salad and sandwich bar, a station for fried food (chicken and hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, etc.), pasta and pizza station and then a station for the main meal. I thought it was gold!
Eating the same chicken burger with extra cheese and mayo with either potatoes, a salad, or fries for lunch almost every day gets pretty annoying. And then your favourite days (taco night) gets ruined due to the beef being too dry and salsa can’t even help.
By making a sandwich/panini/wrap—and trying to create as many different possible kinds—and just having cereal and yogurt and fresh fruit (if any). The cook also mixes it up by having “international meals,” vegetarian options and sushi every now and then.
If you’re still not satisfied, campuses will usually have convenience stores that will have freshly made sandwiches, salads and soup, along with all the amenities that a convenience store will have.
This is what a sophomore has to say about the cafe food: “I think the cafe has the potential to do a lot better in serving better food, but they chose to slack instead of listening to the students.”
Another student said: “I like the cafe food. I think it has variety. I like how you can go and order food from the grill and they’ll make it right in front of you.”
But to survive it, you just have to have some variety, or maybe even go out to eat with friends in town every other week (if that is an option). If you’re not satisfied with the food, you can always write a comment card to the cooks and they’ll [always] respond back to you, which will get posted on the bulletin board for everyone to view. For example, if a student complains that there are no sugar-free deserts and writes a comment card about it, the cooks will then come up with a desert to satisfy the students. The cooks want to make sure that the students are always happy with the quality of the meal.
If you’re like me and don’t want to wake up before 9 a.m. then don’t even think about breakfast. Lunch usually runs from about 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., and dinner is about 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Classes will either finish before the cafe closes or you’ll miss the meal entirely.
This is only the way my cafe runs, and this a small university. I’ve gone to larger universities to visit friends, or attend school presentations and concerts, and some of them have two cafeterias and convenience stores at almost every corner—some that are even open 24/7! I remember visiting one specific campus—the largest I’ve ever been to. It had gigantic foods courts with different stations. You think of any type of food: they had a station for it! They had Chinese, New York style pizza and fries, burgers, vegetarian and vegan, Thai, American, etc. It just never ended! And you can’t forget about the station with just fresh fruits and vegetables and the coolers full of any drink you could imagine. That was delicious food—I was in food heaven.
When searching for universities, I’d definitely recommend taking a day or so and visiting the place to check out the campus. And don’t forget to try the food to see if you like it.