Meals at Pomona are some of my favorite parts of the day. In fact, it’s not rare for me to plan out my next meal before I even leave the dining hall from the previous one. I thought I’d outline a typical meal time since some of my fondest memories at Pomona have taken place within the walls of the dining halls.
Step 1: Swipe in. Not a big deal five days out of the week, but at the end of the week, right before the weekly meal plans run out, it’s a challenge to end the meal plan cycle without meals left but also without running out of meals too early. It’s a small victory to see the ‘zero’ next to my name at Saturday night dinner, as the meal plans start over Sunday morning.
Step 2: Choose your food. I am always so amazed at the options our dining halls have for any given meal. From the main line food to the salad bar to the “expo” section which typically features meals that are more personalized, such as omelets or stir-fries. After perusing for far too long, I usually settle on a line and get my food.
Step 3: Find your friends. When I go to a dining hall with a group of people, this step can be skipped. But it’s definitely more of an adventure when I go alone and have to find people to sit with. Something I love about Pomona is that I’m always confident I’ll be able to find someone that I know to eat with. Some of my most interesting meals have been with people who I don’t usually get to talk to and often I come away from meals with a new friend, or at least with a new person whom I can wave to as I walk around campus.
Step 4: Leave the table 47 times for no reason at all. Maybe this is just a problem I have, but I’ll often find myself standing in the middle of the food area and having no idea why I got up. I think my subconscious makes decisions about my next course of food long before my previous plate was even close to empty. Ahh, the joys of buffet eating.
Step 5: Have some of the most enlightening, heartfelt, intellectual, and hilarious conversations you will ever have. Ever. I can’t reiterate enough how much I love the students here. No matter who I sit with, I am guaranteed to laugh and think at every meal. From conversations about religion and politics, to coming up with alternative slogans to popular cereals, we really do talk about it all. I would absolutely love to be a fly on the wall in our dining halls. (We don’t actually have flies, don’t worry).
Step 6: Dessert. There’s a time at every meal when it is clear that people are winding down; the plates are emptying and the napkins are piling up. At this time, one final trip to the food is in order. When everyone comes back to the table with their cakes, pies, ice cream cones or, for me, Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches, we know the meal is coming to an end. The conversation usually shifts to talk of the “post-meal to-do lists”–the essay that someone has to resume or the biology presentation that has to be practiced.
Step 7: The walk back. When we leave the dining hall, everyone goes off to their various destinations whether it be class, their rooms or to The Village, the end of the meal signifies the time when our individual lives have to resume again–only to be happily interrupted soon after, by yet another meal-time adventure.