By Sophia Augustine ‘23
One of my fondest memories of my entire freshman year (as trivial and silly as it may sound) was taking my very first bite of creamy, delectable mac ’n cheese at Harvey Mudd’s Hoch-Shanahan dining hall. The “long” walk (all the 5Cs are located within a single square mile of each other…) that my friends and I usually never dared to embark on was completely worth it. It was love at first sight.
Now, I’m not dedicating an entire blog post to my love for mac ’n cheese (okay, maybe a little bit, but after trying it you won’t blame me). Rather, I want to highlight the memories I created around this seemingly insignificant food item.
At the very beginning of the year, for any college student really, it is very difficult to “find your people” and “have a group” because all these predetermined expectations of what college is going to be like may fill your mind, causing anxiety, especially with regards to making friends and building brand new relationships from scratch. I am a very extroverted person and absolutely LOVE meeting new people, but, at the same time, I was absolutely terrified (if excited) to come to college and surround myself with so many unfamiliar faces.
The dining halls are just about the scariest places on planet earth for any first-semester freshman, at least in my experience. These spaces buzz with chattering and laughing upper-class and first-year students who have seemingly found their “squads” already (emphasis on SEEMINGLY). I was extremely intimidated and thought that if I didn’t make friends “fast enough” then it would be too late and I wouldn’t have my group—not a good initial mindset, but things changed a lot over time. At the very beginning of the year, a couple of my spiblings and I (see “The Chronicles of MUDD2FRIED” for the complete “spamily” vocabulary) would go to Pomona’s Frank or Frary dining halls or Malott dining hall at Scripps and nervously find a part of a table to occupy while tentatively eating our Impossible burgers or chicken stir fry. In all honesty, the dining halls, as the weeks and months passed, became such a center point where so many of my funniest first-year memories and relationships were made. As we grew more and more comfortable on campus, our initial fear of going to the dining halls faded quickly into nonexistence.
Now, back to the best mac ’n cheese in the world. My spiblings and I (amongst other friends—don’t worry, I befriended people outside of my spamily too) made it a tradition to go up to Harvey Mudd’s dining hall every Tuesday and Friday for dinner just to sink our teeth into the delicious bowls of macaroni and cheese. This habit became about so much more than just the mac ’n cheese, I realized, as we got sent home due to COVID in mid-March. Those “traditions” we created for ourselves carried so much meaning to me that I hadn’t even realized. These weekly outings created such a bond and a trust between us because we knew that even after a long, exhausting day (no matter how good or bad the day was) we would be able to see each other and forget about the rest of our worries and anxieties as soon as we walked into Hoch-Shanahan and wrapped our greedy fingers around bowls of their special mac ’n cheese. My best friend at Pomona, fellow spibling Ella, and I honestly became super close because of all those nights we spent walking to Harvey Mudd and bonding over our love for their mac ’n cheese. The dining halls became an almost physical manifestation of our growth, friendship and love for one another as we continued and will continue to make incredible memories at each and every one of them for the years to come. The mac ’n cheese, to me, was so much more than just food, but rather several nights of amity and laughter, emotions and memories, and growth as we continued to truly find our places within the 5C community, both in and outside of the dining halls 🙂