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Spoiled for Dining Options on Campus, BUT…

I have no complaints, only compliments, for the food served in my college’s dining hall and food court (which we call the PDen, rhyming with my college’s mascot the Paladin). Don’t get me wrong, the food isn’t exceptional or extraordinary, but they try hard to listen to our feedback and meet our needs.

Plus, since all Furman students are required to have a meal plan all four years of college, the dining hall and PDen are not just places to eat – they become a place where students meet and hang out in between classes.

Valentine's Day celebration at Furman's dining hall
Valentine's Day celebration at Furman's dining hall

Our dining hall is arranged into small stations, each with a set theme allowing students to go straight to the station of their choice. For example, the pasta and pizza lovers, they can go straight to the pasta/pizza station. There are also other stations such as the gluten-free station, deli station, produce market station and grill station.

You are spoiled to choose from a wide variety of American food, from the usual burgers and fries to a steak.

The first few weeks of each semester I always find myself having a bit of everything in the dining hall, from casseroles at the Exhibition Station to grilled orange-herb chicken at the Homestyle Station.

The Furman dining hall
The Furman dining hall

The dining hall also has ‘chicken tender Tuesday’ and ‘quesadilla Thursday’ every week to give a little variety on top of the daily availability of the salad bar and soup station.

To complete this, there’s always room for dessert, ranging from ice cream or frozen yogurt to brownies. My guilty pleasures are he fresh-baked cookies and Jell-O.

If there is something you can’t find in the dining hall, there is also the PDen, where students can use food points to purchase food from mini-restaurants - a burrito from Moe’s or sushi from the Sushi Bar, among many other options.

Einstein Bros. Bagels, a late night hangout on campus
Einstein Bros. Bagels, a late night hangout on campus

Students are allotted a certain amount of food points at the beginning of each semester based on the meal plan they have purchased. The meal plan provides the number of swipes we can use in the dining hall (each time we eat at the dining hall, we swipe our card), and provides us with food points (similar to debited cash) that we can in the PDen and around campus.

Since all students are required to live on campus all four years of their college experience, the food factor is important. It’s a huge challenge to have a diverse range of food that can make everyone happy.

It sometimes seems like Furman has everything covered in terms of food options, but as any international student knows, variety in a college dining hall usually means a variety of American foods, with some occasional international dishes thrown in.

There’s always that day in the month when you crave your favorite local dish. Bak Kut Teh is that local dish for me. If you are studying in a big city, this won’t be a real problem – there will be a restaurant nearby to get what you crave. But if you are studying in a secluded campus, accessibility to good food becomes an important factor.

Furman’s Dining Services has been great about being engaged with students, getting our feedback on ways they can improve dining services. For me, I hope they look into expanding the variety of food on campus. Not only would it help international students ease into American food to have their comfort foods available, but Americans will get to know our cuisine as well. I know any changes we suggest probably won’t take place until after I leave campus, but that’s one legacy I’d like to leave for future classes.