Eating on day one: A freshman’s first feast  

Figuring out the dining hall situation is critical when on campus. Writer Serrano takes you through all the ins and outs of dining hall food. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus

Dining hall food. One of the more urgent conversations when picking your college, especially for your parents who want to make sure you aren’t going to go hungry.  

The first meal 

After you unpack all of your dorm room supplies — that you’ll realize you won’t need in two years — it is time to eat. You grab your roommate and head to the dining hall closest to your room, anxiously waiting in line with 50 other freshmen, prepping your palate to change forever.  

The first time walking through a dining hall can be terrifying. Your parents aren’t telling you what or how much to eat, so you may want to go crazy.  

If you’re getting lunch or dinner, try not to be the person who gets a bowl of cereal and a glass of root beer for your first college meal. Take your time deciding, lap around and see what interests you. And if nothing looks appetizing, usually the dining halls serve pizza or have a cold cut station to make a sandwich.  

Sweet stuff 

The dessert area in University of Connecticut dining usually never misses. If they’re serving assorted cookies, grab two. Chocolate chip, chocolate chip with M&M’s, snickerdoodles and sugar cookies are favorites. And when the brownies are offered some days, take three! If you have a big sweet tooth, the ice cream in the dining halls gets the job done with a good amount of flavors to choose from.  

Now, it won’t take long to realize that many dining halls close early, so sadly any late night cravings might not have an easy fix. The next big task is getting breakfast before your first day of classes.  

The most important meal of the day 

You wake up, shower quickly in a freezing stall and prepare to start your first day. With breakfast, keep it simple. Two fried eggs, three sausage links, breakfast potatoes and some slices of toast are the way to go. This may be a bit much and only appealing to some, but it is an example. It’s best to not experiment with foods you’ve never tried before, especially in the morning, since you’ll be in class all day and want to avoid surprises.  

Another simple and effective breakfast option is oatmeal. Add in some brown sugar and a bit of syrup, and you’re good to go. All the dining halls serve fruit, so grab an apple or banana if you’re not a breakfast person or not that hungry. Remember to fill your bottle with the ice cold water from the soda fountain; this is essential when walking in or out of a dining hall.  

South side 

South Campus dining hall is a favorite to get all three main meals if you are close and have time, mainly because of the grill station. Any dining hall with a grill station is solid — though some are different, so keep that in mind. The station usually consists of grilled cheese, beef patties, chicken and fries. 

Usually, the grill station is the last resort if nothing else seems appetizing. Those grilled cheeses will be your best friend or worst enemy if you allow them. They are addicting, so try not to live off them for lunch and dinner. 

Taco Tuesday 

A day to look forward to during the semester is Taco Tuesday. There’s nothing better than making your own tacos or taco bowl with all the toppings after a long day. The chicken strips are a must, especially the chipotle mayo. South is again an excellent spot for Taco Tuesday in addition to McMahon dining hall, which offers late-night hours until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.   

Late night 

Northwest and McMahon dining halls are the only places that offer late night hours. If you could avoid eating late, you should. Depending on the time, the dining hall will be packed, and the food will run low. You may be left with the scraps and have to settle for pasta with marinara sauce, tortilla chips with nacho cheese, or grilled cheese. In the worst case scenario, return to your room and order takeout from one of the restaurants nearby.  

Sometimes, it’s too much 

As time passes, you’ll notice the dining halls try to get advanced with the meals, like an episode of “Chopped.” If you’re feeling like you want to try new things, get a dish you’ve never heard of. Sometimes, you’ll have no other choice but to try something different.  

Health and moderation 

Being on your own for the first time is a great feeling because you create new professional and personal habits. Remember, everything you do should be done in moderation, especially your diet. Healthy eating choices positively impact your academics and both mental and physical health. UConn offers many dining hall choices across the campus. Find a convenient spot where you enjoy the food, and hopefully you’ll relish each meal as you go through your years at UConn.  

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