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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

I’ve been a vegetarian all my life. I was born into a vegetarian family with parents who had vegetarian parents, and so on. It was never something I really questioned; it was just the way things were and I never really saw a reason to deviate from it.

Back at home, my mom is a wonderful cook who often crosses cultural lines. She sometimes cooked Indian dishes and other times prepared widely known and loved meals. She always managed to make the process of coming up with things to eat and preparing them look extremely easy (a testament to her skill and patience). This was another reason why I never really realized how hard it was for some people to actively consume food that was not meat.

I have lived in a bubble for the most of my life where vegetarianism is easy, fulfilling and healthy.

But all of this changed the minute I came to college. All of a sudden, there were no more home cooked meals every night. There was no longer a stocked fridge or a pantry full of snacks and ingredients. There was only dining commons meals, Starbucks and other fast-food options that I had never really resorted to before.

The dining commons often leave me with not many choices of food to eat. There is the ever-present options of salad, pizza and pasta but otherwise, it’s slim pickings. During my first semester here and to this day, a lot of my meals at the commons include veggie burger patties topped with Sriracha. I know this sounds ridiculous and questionable, but to me, it is better than eating the unseasoned boiled beans and carrots or the uncooked broccoli that are often served as the “vegetable portion” of the meals. Dining at the commons can be iffy and brutal at times, which is why I have learned the importance of checking the menu for the buffet before I go.

One option I have come to rely on, however, is the a-la-carte option of getting a sub or a wrap from Penn State Eats. With these two options, I have the chance to make a customizable and delicious meal that I can count on every time. The only problem with this option is how quickly the online orders tend to pile up, making it difficult to get meals on the fly. These can become meals you have to give some thought to plan or else you will end up not being able to get your sub or wrap made until hours after when you actually need it.

I live in the West Halls here in Penn State, and sadly Waring Commons has the smallest and most unfortunate market I have seen all across campus. Many items are often out of stock at our market, meaning that I often make do with Goldfish and other packaged snacks.

Although it may sound like it, it’s definitely not all bad. There are days when the dining commons serve food I enjoy like falafels or butternut squash soup, days when the market is fully stocked, days when it takes little to no time for my sub/wrap order to go through, days when I make a really good smoothie in my dorm, days when I enjoy a mean sandwich from McAllister’s and days when a coffee and a chocolate croissant from Starbucks hits different. I could go on.

But in the end, it does not quite compare to the meals I used to eat back at home (not in enjoyment, and probably not in nutritional value either).

Hello! My name is Annika and I'm a first-year English major who loves to write and watch movies.