Saturday, July 30, 2011

Alliot: a Nine Step Dining Guide

I think now might be a good time to give some Alliot guidelines, as the dining hall can be one of the most intimidating places on campus when you first walk in. Here are some step by step instructions on how to survive this thrice-daily ritual.

1.              Drop your bags. There are no bags allowed in the Green Mountain Dining Room, so at mealtimes students line the walls of Alliot with backpacks, athletic bags, LAX sticks, skis, umbrellas, longboards- anything you can imagine. Don’t be freaked out about leaving your stuff. It’s an honor system that everyone holds to (insert St. Mike’s plug: I think this is one of the greatest examples of what a community our campus really is).
2.              Get out your Knight Card and give it to the Alliot worker at the door, typically the notorious Rosemary. Smile at her every time, even if she doesn’t smile at you. Rosemary is a legend.
3.              Now you’re heading to the buffet style conundrum that is Alliot dining. On the outside, clockwise starting at the left you will find: Condiments, beverages, the Grill, pizza, juices, toasters (with breads), coffee/lattes/hot chocolate, hard and soft serve ice cream with toppings, the big skillet (eggs in the morning, grilled cheese and burgers at lunch and dinner), a station that usually features some kind of home-style meat and potato dinners (not really sure what it’s called), more beverages, then the vegan station, and on the far right, the Salad station (my favorite). In the middle there is also a make-your-own salad station, various lunchmeats and sandwich materials, a soup and pasta island, a milk and cereal dispenser, and a GIANT desert station. Silverware can be found near the salad station and grills, and spoons are near the soup. I apologize if that was overwhelming.
4.              The key to actually acquiring food is to take a quick glance around and choose the best option. Always take a survey before you decide. Last year Alliot went tray-less, and it’s really not as bad as it first appears. It not only saves water in dishwashing, but also keeps people from taking mountains of food and wasting a it all. Don’t worry, you’ll soon master the balancing act of plate, cup, and silverware… and pray that someone else is the unlucky one to spill their dishes to a round of applause from their fellow diners.
5.              If you’re with friends, it’s a good idea to meet by the silverware before heading to a table. The worst feeling in the world is standing abandoned in Alliot and staring around at a room full of unrecognizable faces, desperately searching for your friends. Slightly less embarrassing but still terrible is the awkward walk in which you pretend to know where you’re going in the hopes that you will spot your terrible, terrible dinner companions.
6.              If you are not with friends, this is a great opportunity to utilize those greeting skills that I talked about in my last post. If you recognize someone, don’t be afraid to sit down, reintroduce yourself, and join in the conversation. I promise promise promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Likewise, if you do spot some poor soul sitting by him or herself, invite them over! They will forever think of you as the nicest person EVER, and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
7.              After eating your meal, gather your dishes and scrape any leftover food items onto one plate, in preparation for the next step: compost. The dishwashing and composting station is near the front of Alliot to the left. It’s pretty simple- food in the bins, plates and cups on the conveyor belt, silverware down the chutes. Be courteous to the staff in the back and put things neatly where they belong.
8.              On the way out of Alliot there’s a suggestion table where students can leave messages and the staff will respond. Let them know what you think, good or bad, and request new items if you have an idea! Also don’t forget to say goodbye to Rosemary!
9.              Lastly, grab your bag! It’s really embarrassing to be walking out- or, God forbid, all the way to class- and realize that you’ve forgotten your stuff. Also make sure it’s your own (not kidding, there was a girl in my class last year who realized halfway through class that she had someone else’s bag which was identical to her own).

I know that no matter what your first few meals in Alliot are going to be nerve-wracking, but I promise it gets better. Don’t panic, be courteous, and choose wisely!

ps. Keep a firm grip on that cup, or be prepared for a show! (you’ll see soon enough)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Readings

Interested in what I've been reading this summer?

Half the Sky by Nick Kristof
The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker
The Golden Cage by Shirin Ebadi
Jerusalem, Jerusalem by James Carroll (I must admit I'm stuck in this one)
The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (currently halfway through, loving it)

Might I also suggest:
Last August before I left for school, I re-read the entire Harry Potter series in a month because I knew I'd never have time for fun reading again. That turned out not to be true- I read the seventh book the weekend before the last movie came out- but it was still a nice send-off before college.

Send offs and Greetings

hey hey
So I know, I’ve been so bad about updating my blog this summer. No excuses.
BUT I’ve been doing this intense Summer Reading List, and working 35 hours a week at the Rivier College Library, and going somewhere fun basically every weekend. I’ve been up to Vermont twice, and to the NH lakes region, where I am currently spending a week’s vacation with my family. The wifi here is pretty shoddy- the neighbors should probably update that.
Next week when I come home I’m going to the Send Off party in Windham for SMC students coming from New Hampshire. I didn’t attend one last year so I’m not really sure what to expect. I guess this is the point where you guys have already committed so we don’t have to convince you anymore. This is like… the reassurance stage. I remember this time last year I had just returned from my SOAR orientation weekend and I was absolutely pumped about coming to school. My biggest reservation had been that I didn’t know a single person, but after attending SOAR I felt like I already had a group of great friends and there was nothing left two worry about. As the fall semester progressed some of our group split off and made new friends, but I’m happy to say that two of the people I met at SOAR are still my very best friends at school. It’s not uncommon for groups to shift and rearrange themselves as everyone settles in, but it’s also really nice to walk around campus after that and be able to say hello to people that I probably would never have met otherwise. That’s probably my biggest piece of advice to newcomers on campus: SAY HELLO. If you recognize someone, and especially if you remember their name, use it! Greeting professors, other students, Alliot staff, and custodians will help them remember your face and can build relationships for the future. Saint Mike’s is a small campus, and you’re bound to run into people you know all over the place; the greetings might become exhausting, but they’re worth it.
            So, how do I go about reassuring these freshmen that they’ve made the right choice next week? I think that one of the best things for me to see last fall was the weekend after orientation when everyone came back. I can’t even describe the buzz of that first weekend on campus. You can just sense how excited everyone is, and it’s infectious.  Certainly expect a plethora of “cup drops,” as well as other shenanigans. It will be loud, but don’t let that discourage you from joining in.

I hope to see some of you next Thursday in Windham, and next month at St. Mike’s!

ps. Coming soon: A guide to eating in Alliot