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Q: Is the food at the dining halls edible?
A: The food at Penn’s cafeterias (“dining halls” makes the whole ordeal seem a bit more regal than it actually is) is edible in the same way that most food is: you can eat it in order to not die of starvation or scurvy and it will not make you violently ill. That’s about the highest praise we can give the cafeterias here (the one exception, of course, is Hillel, which unfortunately requires a fee of a couple Dining Dollars in addition to a meal swipe).
Ok, so maybe we’re a bit put off by the concept of being forced into a meal plan, but there are worse things that could happen than having unlimited food (some of which is actually quite healthy, should you choose to craft a balanced meal (but COME ON, you can make ice cream waffles ALL THE TIME)) and having someone else do your dishes. Also, you won’t have to do much grocery shopping in the coming year, which is a huge plus.
Between all the other things freshmen year will throw at you, it’ll be nice not to worry about feeding yourself. Additionally, when everyone has the same meal plan, there’s the social benefit of always getting meals together as freshmen. All that being said, we promise you that you will be ecstatic in about 8 months when you realize that you don’t have to go to cafeterias anymore if you don’t want to.
As a side note, though, we should point out that once you become an upperclassman, having a freshman swipe you into a cafeteria can actually be quite a fun excursion. Ultimately, the prospect of free (or rather, pre-paid) food trumps all — and that’s the bottom line on Penn’s “dining halls.”
See our answers to more of your questions here.
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