The Daily Aztec

Confessions of a starving college student

by Mary York, Digital Sports Editor

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From the time we are pencil-pushing middle schoolers, we are told the end goal of our young lives is to make it to a university somewhere.

In high school, through movies and media (and our older sibling’s friends at that party we were not supposed to be at) we are taught that college will be the best years of our lives.

College is “the peak” they tell us, the “glory years.”

That is where we will make all our best friends and find a community that will last forever, even if we are selling our souls to student loans and an uncertain future.

But no one tells us how hard it is to survive.

And no, I am not talking about 7 a.m. classes or homework on weekends.

I am not referring to those of us who have to work multiple part time jobs while being full-time students, or student athletes or student whatevers.

I am not even referring to the soul-searching and the doubt and the identity crisis that happens in the middle of junior year.

I am referring to finding food.

That is right, the millennia old pastime of finding one’s daily grub.

Granted, we are no longer forced to forage in forests for berries and whatnot.

But in a world where food can be healthy or affordable, but not both, finding lunch between classes can turn into a Survivor episode where it is usually every man for himself.

Those of us determined to eat responsibly (read: fruits and vegetables) have very few reasonable choices on campus.

I am sure I am not the only one who has Googled “Where to buy vegetables in San Diego,” and then done a follow-up search on the differences between rutabagas and turnips that last almost an hour.

It is almost as if we made it through two decades of life without ever learning how to feed ourselves, as though the only aisle in the supermarket we know of is the one with the bread and cheap pastries, as if we expect food to just magically appear inside our ovens and microwaves already cooked and smelling like home.

In the absence of home-cooked meals, take-out and our roommate’s leftovers have made a distressing debut into our lives.

To compound the problem, most of us need to eat three times a day, making the search for nutrients a day-long nightmare.

Packing a lunch is really complicated.

Unless you are willing to eat a PB&J every day for three months, options are limited.

It is hard to find a sandwich that can survive being squashed and unrefrigerated for several hours.

And who has time for a lunch box?

No one, that is who.

Leaving unsaid the judgment that follows whenever someone pulls out a homemade morsel, not many of us have the personal security to actually do something that uncool in front of our peers, no matter how practical.

I think the judgment comes from a place of jealousy, really.

Like, who instilled such good breeding in this kid that he already has his life together enough to be making his own fancy sandwiches?

I bet he washes and dry cleans his own laundry and schedules his own dentist appointments, too.

But it is alright, we tell ourselves through salivation and the scent of his banana sandwich.

He will just never be as cool as us.

Once resolve has been formed to go in search of victuals, the question then becomes, “healthy or affordable?”

Food is expensive, in case you had not already heard.

The “eat food or buy gasoline” struggle has never been more real.

That is why many of us can often be found with bags of cheap snacks that have negative nutritional value and probably cost us a small piece of our soul as well.

But, if we eat enough pretend food throughout the day, we assume we will not be hungry at night when we are up late studying and our “make good decision” defenses are low.

This, kids, is just simply not the case.

It is also why the pizza place on El Cajon gets so much late-night business.

But pizza is communal, we tell ourselves, shelling over tomorrow’s rent in ones and fives.

At least we will all be selling our souls together.

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