Before going to America I expected the food, even the food in the dining hall to be AMAZING. I had visited America before doing my year abroad and knew that American portions were typically gigantic food was covered in excess amounts of salt and sugar and lots and lots of bbq sauce. However, I think I kind of forgot that this might be enjoyable for a 10 day holiday but maybe not for an entire semester. I found that I very quickly got sick of fast food, greasy food and extremely sweet food. By the time I came home for christmas I was craving good old bangers and mash with some decently cooked vegetables. Don’t get me wrong there are of course healthy options on the UMD dining plan but any food made for a huge number of people is never as delicious as a home cooked meal or going out to a restaurant. Also the food got very very repetitive really quickly, for the first week pizza, burgers, chicken wings were an enjoyable option but by week 3 I actually felt myself vomming in my mouth when I thought of eating those things again anytime soon.
However, as I realised I didn’t have the money to eat out and no kitchen in my accommodation in Maryland I had to just make the most of it. I learnt a few tricks of the trade. So for the first couple of weeks I had no idea that there was a stir fry bar in another section of the South Campus dining hall. When I discovered this it meant that there was another option that was somewhat healthy to enjoy for lunch and dinner. Also, I discovered a microwave in the dining hall that I didn’t know was available to students. Also over the semester we were asked to conduct a questionnaire regarding the standard of the dining hall and I know that me along with a number of other students complained about the lack of healthy options available at the ‘salad bar’ this has led to a new salad bar on campus!
While the food isn’t amazing I would say that if you are planning on attending UMD College Park it is the only real option. The neighbouring shops are pretty far and extremely overpriced and without a car it would be practically impossible to do a weekly shop if you live on campus. Also some of my favourite parts about exchange this semester have been eating three meals a day with my new friends. It really does help you become close to people and can help with things such as loneliness as it acts as a perfect opportunity for you to talk about your day. Finally being on the dining plan has definitely helped me become more proactive during my year abroad. This is due to the fact that if my friends have classes the same time as me we always meet for breakfast/ lunch, which means that because I am meeting people I have more of an incentive to actually get out of bed rather than snoozing my alarm for another hour. Overall, the dining plan is a good thing to be on at UMD College Park but it doesn’t hurt to go to a restaurant with friends or while travelling to get away from the repetitive cuisine.
This was during our ‘Christmas Dinner’ (Beware of the little man in the Santa hat!! He only lets you take 1 banana out of the dining hall)