A guide to how one college student eats
Mamma Mia, the pinnacle of Italian cuisine (Manuela Lopez Restrepo/The Diamondback.)
In true Gen Z fashion, most of the video content I consume online these days lives on YouTube. Yes, there is an occasional TV show I’ll keep up with, but for the most part I like my content bite-sized, wildly specific and catered to my goldfish-like attention span. Recently, I came across this Buzzfeed video:
In it, they enlist the help of an LA-based college student named Kristina, who details her ~college~ lifestyle and her ~college eating habits~. The title seems to allude to an understanding from the misguided producer that the eating habits our friend Kristina has are in any way average or relatable. Here’s a quick summary of one day of eating for her:
So, you know, extremely minimal cooking and maximum spending. At one point Kristina details she is “KIND OF BROKE” which is why her restaurants of choice are CHIPOTLE or IN-N-OUT instead of COOKING AT HOME or HAVING TO SKIP MEALS.
Understandably, all of the top comments for this video are people upset at the absurdity of an “average” college student being presented as someone who can afford to eat out multiple times a day, every day. So, to give some balance to this situation, I decided that I, a true proletariat college student who works two jobs and is a vegan (beans = economic vitality) would share what I myself ate in a span of three days. Do you care? PROBABLY NOT. Do I still get paid to write this? YES, ACTUALLY.
On Mondays, I’m on opening shift at the local coffee shop I work at once or twice a week. I usually have work to do before I go in, so I wake up around 6 a.m., go on my computer and then bike to work before 7:30 a.m. I will drink free coffee for breakfast at work.
I got hungry on my break, so I got a carrot muffin and an oat milk mocha. The drink is free and the muffin has my employee discount. At one point Kristina talks about how her shitty diet makes her stomach hurt “all the time,” and her words reverberate inside my mind as my dessert for lunch punches me in the gut.
I am exhausted and not feeling well, despite a quick nap and a trip to the grocery store. I also have an incredible amount of schoolwork I need to complete. I muster the strength to cook couscous, add some black beans and microwave a diced sweet potato. I combine this with a ton of arugula that’s about to go bad, half an avocado my roommate owed me and my favorite dressing of all time, goddess dressing. It nourishes my soul, but I am hungry again by the time I go to bed at 3 a.m.
Tuesday is my school day so I’m in class from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. I do this to maximize extracurriculars on my other days and also because I hate myself. Like my hero, Kristina, I am too tired to wake up early enough for breakfast, so I pack a granola bar I bought at the grocery store and drink water for breakfast. I then eat the granola bar in class and unknowingly get chocolate on my face for the remainder of the morning.
I have a brief window of time to work on my writing and eat lunch in between my classes on Hell Day, so I scarf something down quickly. I make the exact same thing I had for dinner last night, but I also eat like half a bag of Trader Joe’s gentrified take on Takis. They are delicious and the spiciness destroys the top layer of flesh on my tongue.
By the end of the day my brain is fried from thinking, and I am starving. I make pasta — something I eat at least four times a week. I add some vegan pesto, mushrooms, tomato and nutritional yeast. I feel like I am on the family villa in Tuscany, basking in the sun and smiling as I hear my children Mario and Giotto play in the distance. (I am not Italian.)
Wednesday is my day off so I sleep in until 11 a.m. Then, I run errands and eat breakfast when I get home. Today, I treat myself to life’s greatest delicacy: Oatmeal with peanut butter. I add some chia seeds and raspberries and eat my beautiful parfait-like creation as I read a book and drink a mango-banana smoothie. Wednesdays are my favorite.
I have gotten caught up on cleaning my house and doing laundry but have forgotten to eat. My mouth hurts from gentrified Takis so I decide to eat more. The pain hurts so good.
I never see any of my friends anymore because all I know is eat, not sleep and work. But today, I have plans to eat dinner with my friend. We decide on the local taco place because it’s good and cheap. I have a mushroom taco, a cactus taco and some beans and rice. The food is very tasty and I end up spending $15 because I enjoy tipping my service workers a fair amount. I stay up late doing work again, and I am hungry as I type at 2 a.m.
There are many lessons to be learned from this experience, mostly that millennials are actually becoming old people, or at least they are starting to act like it if they really think an average college student could ever possibly afford the lifestyle this Buzzfeed girl maintains.
The average student debt for a graduate in 2017 was $28,650, and with decreasing access to affordable housing and tuition prices increasing at an unsustainable rate in relation to wages, any student is lucky to be able to graduate without a number that will loom over their heads for the rest of their lives. College students nowadays face many different challenges than the ones of days past, but I’ll be damned if you think choosing what restaurant to eat at every afternoon is one of them.