Many things surprised me about college. How easy it was to make friends, how accessible my teachers were, and how I did not mind living in a dorm. The food, though, was the biggest surprise of all. We have all heard, not so great, stories about the dining hall food, so I really did not have high expectations. Especially as a vegetarian, I did not know if there would be good options for me to choose from on a daily basis. And, while I would love if the on-campus Chick-Fil-A offered salads, everything else has exceeded those lower expectations. I truly enjoy going to the dining hall, or the “DH” (though my friends from other schools make fun of me constantly for that nickname). I find that, oftentimes, there is a pretty good variety of food that keeps me from eating the same thing over and over again: there are amazing desserts, the wonderful near and far station, and of course, everyone's favorite hydration station that quenches my thirst every time.
Now, this may be controversial, but I love how being at a small school means only one dining hall. Similar to our one library, the DH brings a sense of familiarity and a close community. I regularly spot people I know there , and I like how it is not only functions as a place to eat, but a communal space where people can easily meet, relax, and take a break from the stress of school.
This might sound weird, but I can't tell you how many amazing memories I have made from my time in the DH. Whether it be my friends and I talking together for hours until it closes for the night or even just the routine of having breakfast at a certain time with a few friends every morning before class; I know these memories will stick with me beyond Furman. Events like The Midnight Breakfast or Thanksgiving were also fun. The feeling of everyone gathered in one space and sharing the same joyful experience was what I enjoyed the most. In general, though, I think the dining hall does a great job at organizing events and holidays such as offering special food or putting up decorations for the Superbowl or Lunar New Year. With the stress of college and everyday life, the little things make all the difference for students. The celebratory nature exponentially uplifts the mood of the room.
One thing I got in the habit of doing last semester was extending my stay long after being done with my meal and getting work done. I can admit that this was more because I love people watching and less because it is a great working environment. It is fun talking to people passing by and even seeing the older community members who often enjoy a meal in there and probably people watch like I do.
It would be wrong to write about how great the DH is without mentioning the workers there. Everyone is genuinely friendly, and I hope they know how much they are appreciated. When I am having a bad day and receive a compliment from one of them or am simply told to have a good day, I always feel like they really mean it.
I recognize, though, that I have only been at Furman for almost one school year so, by senior year, I may have a completely different story, but I can confidently say the DH is one of my favorite places on campus.