Friend: “Hey, why don’t we all go to the P-Den for lunch today?”

Me: “How about we go to the DH, does that sound good to you?”

Friend: “Sure thing, but why? You don’t like what they have?”

Me: “Well… the thing is… I’ve never eaten there before, and I want to keep the streak going.”

Friend: “You what?!”

A typical conversation I have with someone who invites me to eat at the PalaDen Food Court.

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One redeeming quality I’ve noticed about us Furman students is that we are determined. It doesn’t matter if one is trying to prepare for an upcoming exam, putting the finishing touches on creative work, or working with others to complete a group project. Once we start something, we make sure to stick with it and see ourselves through to the finish.

There are some of us, however, who observe this principle and take it to the extreme. Take me, for example. When I was in high school, I made a bet with a classmate that I would wear a plain white t-shirt every day to school for an entire month – of course, I stuck with it and even went so far as to wear an entirely white suit to prom.

That experience, that feeling of accomplishment, carried over to my time at Furman. You’re probably wondering, "why in the world did this guy ever decide to opt-out of eating at the P-Den?”

The challenge started about a month into my freshman year. At first, I didn’t eat at the food court, because I almost never went into Trone and would simply forget about it. During this time, it would come up in conversation that I had not eaten there with other students, and they couldn’t believe it. Soon, others began to doubt I could keep this up; they thought I would concede in a matter of days.

Not long after, it became a personal challenge. I wanted to be known as the one student to have completed a Furman degree without ever buying a meal from the P-Den. Of all I had accomplished during my time here, this is what I wanted people to remember me for the most.

However, this is more than just about proving wrong those who doubted me. It’s much more than about trying to make a name for myself. It’s about making small sacrifices today in hopes of securing a better tomorrow.

‘Oscar, come on, what do you mean by that?’ When I ask people what they like the most about the P-Den, nine times out of ten they tell me it’s because it’s convenient; the grab-and-go meals work great with their busy schedules for when they don’t have time to sit in at the dining hall or Paddock.

This is exactly why I prefer eating at the latter two options. I have had numerous impactful, inspiring conversations with Furman faculty and fellow students at the dining hall and Paddock. I’ve gained valuable insights into others’ lives, learned more about a variety of fascinating subjects, and even shared deeply emotional moments with others over equally wonderful meals at the DH and Paddock.

In an era where we are constantly on the move, taking a moment each day to really plan my meals for extended periods has given me countless opportunities to converse, engage, and reflect - all of which aren’t easily compatible with the grab-and-go foodie lifestyle.

Don’t worry, I’m not encouraging anyone to forgo the occasional Chick-fil-A sandwich or Moe’s burrito (personally, I love eating at those places outside of campus!). I’m simply inviting you to see things from my perspective and explain what I learned from embarking on this wild journey.

And yet, I can’t go entirely without eating there once! Honestly, I can think of no better way to celebrate my upcoming graduation from Furman than by having a fine meal at the P-Den while wearing my cap and gown! A chicken sandwich meal is calling my name. Congratulations, Class of 2022!