I'd Rather Be A Broke College Student Than Access My Meal Plan

I'd Rather Be A Broke College Student Than Access My Meal Plan

Everything wrong with dining halls in college.
1463
views

As my first semester at college comes to an end, I can’t help but be most excited to return home to my mother’s homemade cooking.

Coming to college, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the same culinary luxuries that I had become so accustomed to at home: delicious dinners featuring almost every category of the food web, how to prepare or alter the preparation of my food and when to save some of my meal for later.

I had been to both day camp and sleep away camp, and knew what it was like to eat mass-produced food, though I did not find much of a problem with it. I even spent my middle school and beginning of high school years eating in the cafeteria, yet even those sandwiches wrapped in plastic wrap in the showcase for hours did not seem to phase me.

Little did I know, though, that I would have to subject myself to the disaster that is the dining hall. Among the bowls and plates, sizes comparable to that of my large toenail, is nearly anything to fill it. It’s probably better that the utensils are small, then, yet I can not help but be baffled by the emptiness of almost all ten stations at the South Quadrangle dining hall.

The breakfast station is bare, though the larger problem is the unflavored eggs that are scooped from the pan with an ice cream scooper. If you’re lucky, you can snatch an overly fried and oily tater tot. Be sure to avoid the bin of bagels if you're from New York, for these circular rolls are nothing in comparison.

The Mexican station, on the other hand, is always filled, only with the same thing every single day. Here, you can find a tortilla or rice with some meats (chicken and a few other substances that are hard to identify) accompanied by liquidy guacamole in a bottle, corn salad and some sauteed peppers and onions. I, too, thought that this was the closest thing I was going to get to Chipotle until I found myself contemplating my decision to eat it from the toilet. I guess it really is almost like Chipotle.

As for the other stations, the food looks so unappealing and unappetizing, in addition to being raw or moldy, that I can not even seem to recall the specific foods that they tend to prepare.

Except for Wildfire, that has the same curly fries and substance-on-a-bun every day. I have to admit, though, that the curly fries are comparable to that of an amusement park, a definite must have.

One can always stop by the stir-fry station, with a line in length comparable to that of Skeeps or Ricks, aka around the corner. Some of my friends rely on this station for their sole source of nutrients. I, however, lost faith in this station once I received a bowl of spicy sauce with a side of noodles and a few pieces of undercooked beef.

The salad bar is a safe haven, except for when the edamame is frozen, which is always. Sometimes there will be the occasional patch of mold on the lettuce, but that can’t phase you. Moving the field greens around with the plastic pair of tongues allows you to pick the perfect, mold-less batch of lettuce.

The sandwich station shouldn’t be a problem, except for when you ask for turkey and are served a slice of fat. So inconvenient, right?

The dessert section is like a box of chocolates (if only): you never know what you’re going to get. Some days the soft serve ice cream station is the place to be. Others, the strawberries with worms are probably not your best option.

If I follow my own advice, I most often leave the dining hall having a few bites of raw meat, frozen vegetables, carbohydrates fried in fats and a stomach ache like never before.

Beyond the food options are the drink stations, which have commercial machines that offer plenty of options. The only problem, though, is that the cups sort of smell and the water button has a slightly fruity taste because it comes from the same dispenser as the fruit punch.

Perhaps the largest and most vile wrong of the dining hall is the dispensing area. Of course, I don’t expect it to be a red carpet of empty and dirty dishes, but I certainly don’t expect it to smell like my local garbage dump. Walking through this area brings tears to my eyes, making me feel as if I am bathing in a pile of compost.

I guess it could be worse, though. If part of being a college student is being broke, then I might as well spend my debit card balance on the award-winning restaurants of Ann Arbor, right?

If I’m feeling quite lazy, which I always am, then a 50-step walk to the Michigan Union for a quick bite of Subway, Starbucks, and Au Bon Pain, amongst several other stores, is always convenient. If I need a boost of caffeine, I can always count on Espresso Royale or the Starbucks at almost every corner.

If I’m in a rush to get to class but don’t feel like having each of the 300 students in my lecture hear the rumbling of my stomach, I can stop into Panera, Piada or Amers. Or, of course, if I’m feeling the urge to pamper myself, I can wait around an hour for Savas, Aventura or just about any of the hundreds of places both on and near the University of Michigan campus.

Ultimately, fearing the dining hall is a wonder of freshman year of college. The experience would not be the same if we were all blessed with a four-course meal prepared by our families, would it? And as for our well-being and bank accounts, they can wait.

Cover Image Credit: Dylan Horowitz

Popular Right Now

12 Starbucks Iced Drinks You NEED In Your Life This Summer

Must-try beverages brought to you by your local barista.
189339
views

Be kind to your baristas, they can make you some pretty great drinks. With the temperature rising and the days getting longer, it's approaching the time to find your summer staple to keep you cool (and caffeinated) over the next few months.

Starbucks offers a wide variety of cold beverages that really hit the spot during the summer months, from espresso drinks to fraps, smoothies, teas and refreshers. As a Starbucks barista, I've had the opportunity to taste most drinks on the menu and receive feedback from customers on the do's and don'ts of cold beverages.

While this is not an exhaustive list, I pulled together some of my favorites to give you, the "Ultimate Starbucks Iced Beverage Bucket List for 2017" that you MUST try this season:

1. Pink Drink

Three words: Basic white girl. If you want a photogenic drink that tastes like a Starburst and makes baristas happy, the Pink Drink is for you. It's a pretty simple beverage... this Strawberry Acai Refresher combined with Coconutmilk is sure to satisfy your hipster needs.

2. Iced White Mocha

This sinfully sweet iced espresso drink is not only one of the most popular beverages on the menu, but sure to wake you up at any time of day. Jazz it up by asking for half white chocolate, half mocha sauce, topped with a mocha drizzle, and you've got yourself an Iced Tuxedo Mocha!

3. Doubleshot on Ice

If nothing else, this quick pick-me-up looks classy while giving you the energy boost you need to get through the day. With two shots of espresso, a bit of milk and classic syrup, this drink is easy to enjoy in little time... it's like a caffeine I.V.!

4. Iced Caramel Machiatto

Surprise, surprise... Caramel Machiattos are actually made with vanilla syrup. Nonetheless, these espresso-topped beverages are absolutely delicious at any time of year, but summer calls for ice! Want to change things up? Ask your barista to make it with half vanilla syrup, half toffee nut syrup to make an Iced Salted Caramel Machiatto!

5. Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

A sister to the Pink Drink, the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is a fruit juice-blackberry combo that makes for a pretty chilled beverage to enjoy on the go. The caffeine content is minimal, making it a great option for any time of day.


6. Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Cold Brew is basically Starbucks' version of a smoother-tasting iced coffee with more caffeine. The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is a standard drink topped with vanilla-flavored heavy cream to create a sweet taste and a marbled appearance in the beverage. Want something with flavor, but not in the mood for vanilla? Try the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew!


7. Mango Black Tea Lemonade

The Mango Black Tea Lemonade is one of the most popular drinks on the menu. Iced Teavana tea mixed with mango syrup and lemonade makes for the perfect combination

8. Iced Chai Tea Latte

Iced Chais - sound so sophisticated, yet so simple to make. If you order this drink, there is a 10/10 chance that your barista will love you for it. Milk mixed with a sweet and spicy chai syrup makes for a classy drink that can be enjoyed at any time of day.


9. Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto

The identifying characteristic that makes a macchiato, well, a macchiato is that the espresso shots are poured on top of the milk and flavoring. Starbucks' Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto is a combination of cinnamon dolce syrup and almondmilk topped with espresso shots, a caramel drizzle and a cinnamon dolce topping to create a delicious dairy-free option in the macchiato family.

10. Sunset Refresher

This secret menu drink is fairly simple to make with a cool lime base, lemonade, lime slices, and ice topped with black tea. When finished, the drink will have an ombré appearance that makes it totally picture-worthy!

11. Iced Caffè Americano

Calling all espresso lovers: Americanos are a Starbucks signature. The drink itself is pretty simple - espresso and water topped with ice, but if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can mix things up with a flavored syrup. This drink is sure to wake you right up, no matter the time of day.

12. Strawberry Lemonade

Want something cold but not feeling coffee or a frap? Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is definitely worth a try! While this drink is not on the menu, most baristas are happy to make it upon request. Just ask for a combination of strawberry flavoring, lemonade, and ice blended together for a slushie-like beverage!

Cover Image Credit: FoodBeast

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Living With Celiac Disease

Kids would put food in my face and tease me about it, they'd tell me that my symptoms weren't real and that I was just faking it for attention; I even had adults tell me this too.

275
views

At the age of eight, I experienced horrible stomach pain, weakness, and illness. I was doubled over, and I didn't know why I'd felt so horrible. It wasn't the kind of pain you feel when you have the flu, or when you have cramps. It was a different kind of pain, but I knew it wasn't good. My parents didn't know what was wrong with me either. The only thing my dad had suspected was that perhaps I was intolerant to gluten.

For those who don't know, gluten is found in many food items that primarily contain grains or are often high in carbs. This isn't to say that all foods with carbs or grains have gluten, but they oftentimes do. Gluten is a protein within wheat that is the primary ingredient in cake, pizza, and bread. It is even sometimes in food that you would never suspect, like Twizzlers. It's also synonymous with ingredients like monosodium glutamate, malt, barley…etc.

I tell you that to tell you this:
At eight years old, I was told I had celiac disease. Which just means that my body is unable to digest and break down gluten, preventing me from absorbing vital nutrients.

My dad found out later in his life that he was gluten intolerant after many years of breakouts and complications. He had ascertained the idea that maybe I had also carried this gene and that was why I was in so much pain. Each time we digest gluten, our body attacks our small intestine, killing off what is called villi. My body was in so much pain because I was eating gluten.

After taking gluten products completely out of my diet, I felt 100% better. I was no longer in intense pain, I no longer had rashes, and all other symptoms went away. From then on, I had to watch what I ate, as if I was on a life-long diet.

As you can imagine, this was a ton of responsibility for me as an eight-year-old because I now had to constantly check every label there ever was, make sure that the food I was eating at school didn't have any sort of gluten in it, and I was also now a novelty at school. Kids would put food in my face and tease me about it, they'd tell me that my symptoms weren't real and that I was just faking it for attention. I even had adults tell me this too. They thought I was being hypersensitive.

I had to remember everywhere I went that I had to avoid eating gluten. Do you know how hard that is? It's in so many things. When I was young, not many people knew what celiac disease was. There weren't any gluten-free alternatives out there, so I was eating lots of rice, beans, and salad. I had a very limited food palette. I could no longer have the amazing foods I enjoyed like pizza, garlic rolls, cake, or even ravioli. Although it seems odd, ravioli and spaghetti-o's were my favorite then and I was no longer able to have them. It crushed me.

Having celiac disease was hard as a child because when I went to birthday parties, I couldn't eat most of the food they provided. I couldn't enjoy birthday cake or the pizza that most people ordered. I always had to bring my own food and explain why every time. It seems silly, but I often felt left out. Not being 'normal' because of my allergy made me feel like an outcast. You'd think you wouldn't feel like that, but it generated a lot of those negative feelings because I was a burden to feed due to my allergy.

Fast forward 13 years later, I still have to be careful of what I eat. Celiac disease is something I'll never get rid of. It's a part of my DNA, and there's a good chance my kids will also carry the gene and deal with the same issues.

I don't usually tell people I have celiac disease because I can sometimes get away with having trace amounts of gluten and still be mostly okay. But when I accidentally eat gluten, I pay the consequences. There are times when I accidentally eat it and feel like I can't get out of bed because of the stomach pain. I joke that the pain is so horrible that I feel like I'm dying, but it really does feel severe in the moment.

Being gluten intolerant, I spend quite a bit more money on groceries because I have to find gluten-free food and it's way more expensive. Because gluten-free became a fad diet, more places began offering alternatives and it was easier for me to find foods I liked. When I find gluten-free goodies that aren't normally gluten-free in restaurants, you bet my eyes light up! It's exciting but also a relief.

Being gluten-free has oftentimes felt like a curse, but it's also a blessing sometimes.

The upside to this is that researchers are looking into developing a pill that will help those with celiac disease digest gluten easier and/or subside symptoms completely. So hopefully soon, I'll be able to eat the foods I once loved without feeling ill.

Related Content

Facebook Comments