Dear First-Years, Share a Meal

By Murali Saravanan
Sun Staff Writer

According to Forbes magazine, Americans are eating alone more and more often. And from a practical viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. Eating alone is efficient; you can finish quickly and attend to the next item on your to-do list. You can even catch up on a TV show or watch sports highlights. Or if you’re really desperate, you can catch up on work.

I know I have eaten alone and done all of the things I’ve listed. And to be honest, it kind of sucks. Eating alone makes me feel lonely and small. Every day, I notice plenty of people eating lunch or dinner alone in the dining halls; it’s incredibly common here and at many other college campuses across the nation. Why? Well, let’s face it, eating with others is hard to do in college. With Cornell’s myriad of classes and extracurriculars, everyone has a different schedule. Although it can be hard to find the time for it, sharing a meal with others can be one of the best ways to build a deeper relationship with the people around you. So, first-years, I strongly encourage you all to make the time in your schedule to share your meals with others, especially your professors! During the semester, some professors will invite students to get a group meal with them. Not only is it usually casual and less stressful, but you also get to learn about the unique experiences of your professors. I remember I once got dinner with a professor emeritus in the physics department and heard stories about how the department used to be in Newman Hall.

The first few weeks of your first year here can be really tough and isolating, so don’t be afraid to ask people you’ve just met to grab a meal with you. Whether it’s lunch between classes or dinner after a club meeting, sharing a meal is a great way to make new acquaintances and build close friendships. People tend to be more relaxed during meals, which allows for great conversation to happen naturally. Plus, sharing food helps you get to know someone better easily since food is a key part of a person’s identity. Learning about the food they enjoy eating and making reveals a lot about someone’s background and upbringing, helping you to form a more meaningful friendship.  

As the years go on and you move away from dining hall food, keep setting time aside to share food with the people you care about. For example, a few friends and I decided to make time every month to get a meal together this year, regardless of prelims. I don’t see them on a day-to-day basis, so it’s nice to check in with each other. So far, every time we’ve gotten a meal together, our friendship grows stronger. We all have busy schedules, but it’s up to us to set aside time from work to establish and maintain the important bonds that will be remembered years after college.

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