Going back to the dining hall wasn't what I had planned while visiting my friend for spring break, but it didn't completely let me down. The moment you don't have to eat dining hall food is a celebration, until you remember that you now have to buy groceries, cook, and do the dishes. However, the freedom to eat whatever you want and build your own menu is worth all of the hassle. 

I have been out of the dining hall for a year now, and recently spent one week eating all of my meals on campus while visiting a friend at their school. It was interesting to see how it all felt so different, so here are the five things I learned when I went back to the dining hall.

1. The glamour is gone.

As a freshman, going into the dining hall for the first time was exhilarating. All of the food lines, pizza every day, desserts on desserts, and no one telling you to eat your vegetables. This time, walking in it was loud, I wondered how long the food had been out, if vegetables were washed, and why the salad bar looked so sparse. However, even with the limited salad bar, there are still ways to create something great, like in this article! But alas, the chicken was dry as a bone and the side options were either cold and stale, or greasy and fried.  

2. I looked for foods I normally buy at home. 

I eat almost the same thing for lunch every day, so when it came to dining hall lunch, I found myself looking for those same foods. I didn't even pay any attention to the other food lines. I had created such a habit that those were the foods that I was craving. And forget about dessert. I don't buy sweets at my house so the cookies and brownies didn't even seem appealing. 

As for dinners, I like to mix it up a bit while cooking for myself. When looking in the dining hall I still tried to find the same staples, though. When home, I usually have a vegetable, a meat, and a side, so, while at the dining hall I did have more side and meat options, but the vegetable was almost always the salad bar. 

3. Breakfast might have been the best meal.

I, for one, did not go to the dining hall for breakfast when I ate in the dorms. Being a varsity athlete, I either had to be at practice before it opened, or just was too lazy to go in before class if I had time. But man, I was missing out. There was a make your own omelet bar, so much fruit, a variety of breads to make toast, along with great toppings, yogurt, and more! Since I was technically on break, I had no obligations and could sit at the dining hall munching on fruit and toast for hours, turning my initial breakfast into a monster brunch, like in this article! It was by far the best meal I ate each day, because how can you get eggs and bacon wrong? 

4. Why is the meat so dry?!

Literally every meat was dry as a bone and had no flavor. The chicken was the worst. It was so dry that not even dipping it in ranch dressing or putting it on a salad helped. I know that they have to take the internal temperature of the food so that we all don't get sick, but there has GOT to be a way to make the meat juicier and have flavor!

5. Deep down, I miss it. 

Don't let the complaining fool you, I do miss the dining hall. The convenience and ease of it all is appealing and, since I'm not a picky eater, there is always something there that I can scarf down. Someone else cooking and cleaning for you is not something to take for granted. Plus, every day the dining halls are becoming more and more health conscious and offering foods for all types of diets. Some even provide nutritional information for those interested. So, I can't really hate on the dining hall because really, it's one of the best parts of your underclassman years.  

There is also always fun ways to create you own adventure in the dining hall, as discussed in this spoon article.