From the moment I agreed to help start a Spoon chapter to the day I graduated from UC Berkeley, Spoon University has shaped my college career in so many ways. I could honestly go on for hours about how wonderful Spoon is, but, for now, we'll just stick to these 11 Spoon experiences that have made these past few years incredible.

Interviewing Olympic swimmers Jacob Pebley, Josh Prenot and Ryan Murphy

I got lunch with Olympians. Let that sink in for a little. How often does that happen? Not too frequently. It was fascinating to hear about the dining halls at Olympic Village and the typical diet of Olympic swimmers. But more importantly, these three Cal Bears were incredibly sweet and accommodating.

Building a community of food-lovers

coffee, beer
Photo courtesy of Karen Chou

UC Berkeley is a large school; with over 27,000 undergraduate students, it can be difficult to find folks that you vibe with. Starting a Spoon chapter helped create a community of food-lovers where I met students from a variety of majors and backgrounds that all shared my love for food photography and procrastibaking. There are no better people to stand on chairs to take that perfect overhead brunch shot with.

Attending Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival for free

Jocelyn Hsu

Do I even need to explain? Free food is every college student's dream, but free chocolate just takes it to the next level. I got my first ever media pass to Ghirardelli's annual Chocolate Festival, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The chocolate I collected there lasted me for the rest of the school year.

Making friends from around the world

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Luna Zhang

Spoon is an international network of badass college students, and I am so grateful to be part of this community. We exchange ideas and learn from each other online through Slack and Google Hangouts, while also getting together at meetups and Spoon Member Summits.

Appreciating the em dash

tea, beer, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

I didn't understand how to use an em dash — or even know what one was called — until I started writing for Spoon. Now, you're likely to find em dashes sprinkled throughout my articles. It's really quite the nifty punctuation mark.

Shoutout to my EIC's Elizabeth Layman and Courtney Cheng for refining my em dashing skill.

Learning social media marketing

Although I wasn't officially on Spoon's marketing team, I've used social media to advertise events, recruit new members and publicize my writing and videos. Through Spoon's abundant resources, I have learned about a variety of marketing strategies and how to execute them.

Getting a 6-page magazine spread

wine, pizza, tea, beer, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

Never in a million years did I think I would be featured in a print magazine. However, I am so grateful for the opportunity to discuss the intersection of college students and food, sustainability, culture and more.

Growing as a leader

alcohol, tea, coffee, wine, beer
Photo courtesy of Innovative Design

One of the most impactful learning experiences I've had during my time in college was leading a Spoon chapter and advising others. I learned how to work with different leadership styles, handle inter-team conflict, manage a budget, communicate efficiently and so much more.

Writing about Taiwanese American culture

Jocelyn Hsu

Spoon provided a platform to express my thoughts and appreciation for Taiwanese American culture. These writings started conversations about what it means to be an Asian American and have brought me closer to figuring that out.

Developing recipes

Before coming to college, I didn't know how to cook; the most that I could make was rice and instant noodles. Now, I can successfully cook and bake most recipes, but I can also develop my own. It's an incredible feeling when friends and strangers tell you that they tried and loved your recipes.

Getting a full-time job

Photo by Tim Gouw | Unsplash

punttim on unsplash

Throughout the application and interview process for various companies and positions, I found myself talking about my Spoon experience a lot. I have learned and grown so much through my time as a Spoon contributor, so I've decided to join SpoonHQ full-time as the Community Success Manager to bring our contributors the same, if not better, opportunities that Spoon has given me.