I swipe my meal card. The access it brings is – in one word – tantalizing.
Hand-cut cantaloupe, butternut squash soup, the occasional salmon – and if you live in FloMo, ice cream at every meal. All in heaping portions in the food line, serving spoons poised to be used.
Some people complain about the monotony of dining hall food – and at Week 8, who wouldn’t? – but now I see what I didn’t see before. I see luxury.
I am learning. We all are. And I’m learning more than about electron spatial distribution, more than how and when to use the de Broglie relation, more than any Pearson textbook or 9:30 a.m. lecture can teach me. I’m learning how to be open without feeling exposed, how to be fragile without feeling weak. What’s a friendship, what’s a true conversation, without vulnerability? So reader – friend – let’s talk about it.
It’s strange walking into a dining hall. It’s strange – challenging, even – to have enough.
Take it from me – someone who came to Stanford from rightfully named Hazard, East Los Angeles. Take it from me – a hood scholar. Walk in my shoes, if only for a few steps, because you can step out of them afterwards. This is not about sympathy. This is about empathy.
It’s a process, adjusting to a culture where there is always enough. Sometimes, you feel the urge to take something extra from the dining hall, an orange or something small, “just in case.” Just in case one day, there isn’t enough to go around.
You should know better. You’ve been here for weeks. You should know by now, that in this new place, there will always be plenty. Here, things are constant. Here, necessities are guaranteed. This is not like home.
There’s an irrationality to assimilation, I’m learning. There’s a gradualness to it, too.
Some of us, when we go home for break, will not have access to comparably healthy, diverse food options. And that’s for the same reason that some people refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck.”
Some of us don’t have our own rooms back home. Some of us, whether we’re couch-surfers, room-sharers or something in between at home, consider living with a roommate a step up from our previous housing situation. And within that group, a fraction of us would simply rather stay here.
This, reader, is about being aware. It’s a human thing to only realize you had something when it’s gone, so take it from someone who is used to not having much. We are lucky. We are privileged. And most of the time, we don’t even know it.
Contact Amanda Rizkalla at amariz ‘at’ stanford.edu.