Dining Hall Hacks

Dining Hall Hacks

Helpful hacks to make the most of your dining experience.

Imagine it is your first day of finals. You wake up and get ready for the day, shower, do your hair, pick out a fun outfit, and do anything you can to make yourself confident for your impossible final. More likely, though, you roll out of bed and glance at your flashcards real quick before heading to class in your sweatpants and t-shirt you slept in. Regardless, you decide to swing by the dining hall for a quick breakfast, it is the most important meal of the day. You see the fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, banana nut muffins, baked apples, and the fresh strawberries calling your name. The only problem is you ran out of swipes. Looks like you will fail the test on an empty stomach instead.

Here are some helpful dining hall hacks to be sure that you can stretch your swipes the whole semester!

Ditch the Doritos

Of course, they look awesome in the campus convenience store, but there are better snacking options. Many oatmeal, yogurt or salad bars tend to have granola or nuts. Next time you go grab some extra in a to-go container for a study snack with a little more sustenance.

Microwave mug muffins

Who would’ve thought that you could make a muffin in your microwave! Grab the banana on the way out of the dining hall and follow this recipe: http://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/peanut-butter-banana-mug-cake/ for an awesome breakfast! If you have access to an oven, go bigger and make a loaf of banana bread, trust me, it is sure to be a floor favorite.

You don’t need Nana for baked apples

While I am sure your Nana makes the best baked apples, you can too, all from the comfort of your own dorm. Cut up an apple from the dining hall into slices and put in a microwave safe bowl along with a pat of butter, spoonful of sugar and dash of cinnamon. Microwave for two minutes on high and you have yourself a wonderful warm snack!

Order less pizza on pizza night

You can make a pizza stretch between a few more people with this easy hack. Head to the dining hall and take salad to go. Fill up two containers with salad and one with toppings and you will have a nice salad to go with your pizza!

Salad bar veggies can have a second life

Those salad bar veggies don’t have to be thrown away if you don’t want them at the time. Instead, blanch them in hot water, you can use a Keurig or coffee maker, for 2-3 minutes, then freeze them. When you are ready, steam them in the microwave with a little bit of water in the bottom of a bowl and a lid with vents or paper towel on top for 4-6 minutes. Now you have veggies to go with dinner!

When you don’t “got milk”

Dry cereal is gross. With strategic thinking at the dining hall, you can be sure your cereal never goes dry again. Bring a travel coffee mug to the dining hall and fill it up with milk. Take it back to your room, refrigerate, and enjoy with your cereal the next morning, or Oreos, I won’t tell.

Sandwich Stretching

Don’t waste your awesome sandwich or wrap! Take the other half back with you and enjoy it for lunch the next day along with a piece of fruit or some of those delicious baked apples.

I hope these helpful tips keep your stomach full all semester. Make sure to continue to stay active as well and eat everything in moderation. A healthier you will translate better in class, with friends, and for your future! Happy dining hall hacking!

Cover Image Credit: college.usatoday.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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This One’s For Africa


Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.


It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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