“Want to grab a meal?” I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear this question. It is probably one of the most common questions thrown around here at Princeton. Since everyone needs to eat, grabbing a meal is one of the easiest ways to chat with people. Whether you recently met someone and want to get to know them better, or you want to catch up with an old friend, a meal is always a good option.
If you were to ask a Princeton student on average how long he or she spends in a dining hall in a given week, I bet the number would surprise you. This is largely because the conversations in a dining hall are special. Time tends to stop and one becomes immersed in the conversation. Sure, there are those days that you have to grab a quick meal in between class, but on average, Princeton students tend to spend their mealtime enjoying the company of others and having intellectual conversations.
I think this is because students enjoy engaging with one another. You never know what interesting thing someone is going to mention that launches into a long discussion. It could be politics, something one just learned in class, an interesting tidbit about one’s past or even what food is being served that day. It doesn’t really matter what the conversation starts with. It just matters where it goes.
Additionally, there are many lectures and conversations with faculty that occur over meal times that further add to the opportunities for interesting discussion over food. For example, over the past two weeks, I have attended a lecture about zebras in Kenya, a pre-vet guidance session, a Spanish table (where students in Spanish classes get together to practice their Spanish), a Hebrew learning session, as well as meetings for various clubs and departments I am part of.
When I was looking at colleges, it was my dinner conversation with my host at Princeton that made me realize Princeton was the school for me. We must have sat in the dining hall for almost two hours going through everything from research opportunities to campus sport culture. My conversation with my host made me realize how incredible people are at Princeton, and how much I wanted to engage with them all. I wanted more meaningful discussions, and I can honestly say now after being on campus for three years, that is exactly what I have gotten. I am still friends with my host today (I actually just got a meal with her last week), and I am constantly making new friends over meals.
So next time you’re looking to make some new friends or catch up with old ones, you know you can always rely on the handy phrase “want to get a meal?”