Being back at UC Berkeley means getting back to those amazing dining halls (not). The food is really not great, but there is something even better about going to the dining halls — people watching. Even if you don’t want to eat dinner, you can just head to a dining hall, fill up a bowl of froyo, sit down and gaze in awe at all of the different types of students you can find in dining halls.
1. The big savers
We call this group of students the big savers because of their attempts to save as much money as possible through their dining hall endeavors. Upon entering the dining hall, these students will pull a two gallon bottle out of their backpacks and fill it up with any of the dining hall’s many fantastic beverages: milk, soda, juice or even ice cream. They will then go on to throw one, two or maybe 10 (just for kicks) bananas into their backpacks, and maybe head to the burrito station to bring a few home for the week. Although these methods are not strictly morally right, they are allowed at an all-you-can-eat dining hall, and these students are just taking advantage of it as much as possible. It’s impressive, annoying and strange all at the same time, and these students can be found at any of the dining halls — just take a seat and get ready to observe.
2. The “I’m eating, Mom, I promise”-ers
These are the students who have promised their parents that they’ll eat healthily, and to feel less guilty about not actually eating healthily, they’ll have a bowl of peas next to a pizza, a burger and a bowl of Lucky Charms. These are the people who are really taking advantage of eating whatever they want in college, but will nibble on some broccoli so they can (slightly less guiltily) assure their parents that they’re eating something healthy. They’re doing their best, just like we all are.
3. The people who really just don’t know that breakfast, lunch and dinner exist and would rather just eat anything they want at any time of the day
Speaking of people whose meals don’t really make sense, you can find these students everywhere. These students will pair a few pancakes with an Indian curry dish, a side of fish and a breakfast muffin. All these items sounded good to them at the time, so they just went for it — no matter the time of day (or whether these foods actually taste good together). They’ll eat anything because they’re not mandated to eat regular meals like they are at home, and it’s fascinating to watch them eat fish alongside waffles. For them, it’s all about liberation, and eating anything they want to at any time. More power to them!
4. The people who study all day and own it
These people are the best, because we at UC Berkeley all study incredibly hard, although not a lot of people own it. People want to seem like they have a social life, when we all know that’s not true. But, there are people in dining halls who will come, get a few things to eat and spread all their schoolwork out. Occasionally, they’ll get up to find new sustenance, but they’ll stay at that exact table for hours at a time studying (and they’ll get so much more accomplished than we ever could!). We at the Clog aspire to be these people, because they are optimizing their schedules and aren’t even taking a break to eat.
5. The occasional upperclassmen
It’s rare at UC Berkeley for upperclassmen to have meal points, but occasionally a few do. They’ll come into the dining halls, and it’s always clear that they’re upperclassmen because they can grow beards, but mostly because of the way they laugh at freshmen. They might sit down at a table and reminisce about all the times that they ate the questionable tilapia, and the one time they tried the vegan chicken tenders (strangely dusty!). They’ll laugh at “freshman problems,” and will probably not be talking about living in an apartment for the first time or how they got lost walking to class today. When at a dining hall, if anyone there seems calm and collected rather than stressed (as most freshmen are), you can pretty much assume that they’re upperclassmen. It’s a given!
UC Berkeley dining halls may not have the best food, but they do have the best people-watching. Head to a dining hall today, and get ready to take notes. Your sociology professor will love it.
Contact Esmé Brachmann at [email protected].