When I sit up late at night, contemplating how to finish another 150 pages of political philosophy before sleep, and when my already fragile focus is broken by spontaneous grumbling sounds from my abdomen, I peer out my window here at Keio University in Japan, stare at the moon and deeply miss late meal.
Okay, maybe it’s not that serious.
But in all honestly, late meal is a great aspect of the Princeton meal plan, loved by the wise and appreciated by the lucky, and in my opinion it is the best reason to purchase Princeton’s unlimited dining plan option. Essentially, after normal dining hall hours for lunch and dinner, a café opens in the basement of Frist Campus Center to provide more options for students’ snacking needs. Here, we can use the meal swipes from our Princeton card (prox) to pay for our choice of burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, fruit, tacos, ice cream, cereal, yogurt and… well, anything really, as long as the total price doesn't exceed a predetermined amount. The late meal option is great for athletes who often miss out on regular dining hours due to their practices, so you’ll notice the crowds that hang around late meal are usually larger than average (pun intended). As a non-athlete, I honestly just enjoy eating several meals per day. I also enjoy running into a lot of my friends who always seem to lounge around the café area. Late meal is practically the watering hole of campus; you see everyone hovering somewhere nearby.
Most students waive their rights to late meal when they transition away from Princeton’s meal plan after sophomore year. I, however, chose to stay with the unlimited dining plan for the first part of my junior year. Maybe I’m addicted. I don't regret anything. In that afternoon stretch before dinner but after lunch, I’ve seen upperclassmen shed all forms of dignity when they practically beg underclassmen to purchase them something from late meal.
For me, I practically work my schedule around trips to late meal. Even if I’m not hungry at the late meal hours, I usually drop by and snag a few snacks for stockpiling. After two-and-a-half years of late meal reliance, the guy who works behind the grill knows my face and my standard order: large chicken quesadilla with a side of chipotle sauce. I’m not sure if this recognition is an impressive feat, or instead an alarming development, but I do know that when I return to campus after this study abroad semester, that quesadilla will be one of the first things I will chomp on.