Annenberg is like a rite of passage. Every freshman eats there, surrounded by the second-largest collection of secular stained glass in the world. Your feelings about the historic dining hall change as time goes on, however, and looking back on freshman year, they can be roughly divided into the following five stages.

1. Wonder

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You’ve just arrived on campus, and your dining hall doesn’t seem real. You are eating in Hogwarts; none of your friends from other schools can post pictures of giant stained glass windows and brag about eating under their magical, multi-colored light every day.

The people you meet are interesting and friendly, and you can sit down to eat with just about anyone. The food isn’t perfect, but it’s better than whatever you were served in your high school cafeteria. This, you think, you can happily live with.

2. Unimpressed

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It’s the end of October, and if you see another midterm or paper this week you’re not going to be held responsible for your actions. You make time to eat in Annenberg, but you’re starting to get bored with the food there. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised – who knew HUDS made good mussels – but by now you’ve mostly got a handle on the menu.

Your classmates are still cool, but most people have found a friend group, so it’s less socially acceptable to just sit down with random people. Going out to eat seems more and more attractive, but you don’t really want to spend all your money before finals. For now, you can deal with Annenberg.

3. Awkward

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It’s early December, and you spend probably too much time day-dreaming about all the good food you’re going to eat when you get home. Annenberg seems all the more bland in comparison, and overall, you’re feeling a little worn down.

Friend groups have definitely solidified by this point; gone is the utopia where you can sit with whoever you want. This only becomes a problem when your friends shut themselves in to study and forget to eat, and you’re left awkwardly scanning tables until you find a friendly faces. Or you can always do a working lunch. At this point, you just really want a home-cooked meal.

4. Frustration

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Why doesn’t Annenberg ever serve foods you like? Do they expect you to eat all of this chicken? Why are meals at the Houses so much better? It’s the end of February, and these are the important questions in life. You’re definitely starting to get sick of dining hall food. To make matters worse, you’re too stressed to be positive because you’ve been in school a month, yet you already have midterms.

It feels like Siberia outside, and you don’t really want to leave your room for anything. Buying and stockpiling food sounds like your best option, or maybe you can try and hibernate. Either way, you’re avoiding Annenberg.

5. Acceptance

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It’s May, and you’re finally starting to remember what warmth feels like. Your freshman year is almost over, and with that come some realizations. You begin to let go of your frustrations and look back on the good times in Annenberg.

You remember meeting one of your friends there during Opening Days, and how magical the hall looked for Halloween. You realize you’re going to miss the kind HUDS staff and their smiles as they swipe you in. You’re looking forward to House life, but for now you’re still a freshman. For better or for worse, Annenberg was your dining hall this year, so why not focus on its good points?