Freshman 101: Navigating the Dining Hall

09/02/2011 03:12 pm ET | Updated Nov 02, 2011

There's a huge chance that your campus has at least one dining hall, meaning there's another huge chance that you're REQUIRED to get a meal plan if you're a freshman.

Depending on the day, having a meal plan can be good or bad. The dining hall is close, fast and has a wide selection of food. However, you always see the same people there, and the "wide selection" of food is the same every day. Here are some tips on how you can master the dining hall and make the most of your meal plan.

Take your Tupperware: If your dining hall is all-you-can-eat, then you should eat whatever you want when you go, but also stock up for later. Take cereal, cookies, fruit and vegetables. There are going to be some mornings you don't want to go to the dining hall because you're just too hungover, and you'll just want to eat cereal in bed. Or maybe you'll be up all night cramming for an exam and need a few sweet, chocolate chip cookies to get you through the night.

Go Alone Some Days: If you go with friends, chances are you are going to sit and talk for an hour or so while you eat. That was okay for Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, but they never went to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sitting among all of that food for two hours can be dangerous. You may tend to keep nibbling on food not realizing how much you're eating, and then ten slices of pizza later, you'll be sick. If you go alone, you can limit yourself to one plate and leave whenever you want to.

Explore other Dining Halls on Campus: Your campus probably has at least one dining hall, and if your campus is big, it probably has more. I know it's convenient to go to the one closest to your dorm when you're walking home from class, but it's good to check out the other ones. They may have different food options or hotter guys than your dining hall.

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