People like to say that college is the best time of your life. Four years ago, as I lay in bed after the first day of NSO, listening to the quiet snores of my super awesome roommate while reliving the craziness of that first day in my head, I knew there was no way that Stanford wouldn’t end up being the best time of my life.
Obviously, there were the academics: like most everyone at Stanford, I was (and still am) a huge dork, so I was crazy excited about the variety and quality of classes and about getting to be taught by some of the most badass professors in the world. There was our incredible athletics program, with so many great teams I could watch, many for free. There were all the traditions I’d heard so much about — Full Moon, Big Game, The Game, fountain hopping, Ski Trip, Exotic. And, of course, there was the weather. For someone who spent 18 years growing up in Syracuse, one of the snowiest cities in America, that in itself was going to make these four years awesome.
Four years later, I can say that these four years have been the best four years of my life, but it’s not because I found every class to be engrossing and inspiring (IHUM sort of dispelled that notion right away) or because I got to see our football team go from 4-8 my freshman year to 12-1 this year (although that was incredible) or because I got to do every single tradition. Even the weather didn’t end up being all that I’d hoped it would be, although that was probably my fault for expecting sunny, mid-70s weather year-round.
These four years have been the best four years of my life because of the people. Despite everything there is to love about our academics, weather and activities, what’s been more important have been the people I’ve learned with, gone to football games with, partied with and shared meals with. I could go on for pages about how fascinating, how brilliant, how kind, how driven, how creative, how diverse Stanford students are, and getting to see this firsthand, day after day, has been incredible.
Which brings me to the title of my final column — “Eat Together, Graduate Alone.” It’s a play on the phrase live together, die alone (popularized by the cultural phenomenon that was “Lost”), which has a couple of possible readings. The first is that we might live together, but all of us die alone, in a metaphorical if not literal sense. The second assumes an implied “or” between the two statements, that if we don’t live together, we’ll die alone. I much prefer the second reading, both because of how depressing the first is and because of how it highlights the importance of community.
So we’ll use that meaning — eat together, or graduate alone. Over these past 15 weeks, almost every column of mine has had some tie to food (I’ll admit that some of those ties were a bit of a stretch — hey, just like this column’s title!), and I hoped to highlight the importance of food in our lives, to highlight that, in a way, we really are what we eat. However, more important than just food itself are meals, when we share food with people. Stanford students are so busy, between psets and intramurals and student groups and everything else that we have going on, and meals are when we take a break from all these things and can just enjoy each other.
Over a meal, we share funny anecdotes about what happened at Cafe Night and horror stories about that Math 51 midterm. We share our thoughts about Stanford and ROTC and our views on which sandwich at Ike’s is the best. We share our nervous anticipation over entering the real world and our amused recollections of the awkwardness of NSGlow. We share our strawberries.
So do as many things with amazing people here as you can, but do be sure to take the time to eat together. When are we going to have this again, the ability to eat with a big table full of fascinating people, night after night? You might not actually graduate alone if you take your meals in your room or if you always eat with the same couple of friends, but why waste such a lovely opportunity to share food and conversation with the people who make Stanford what it is?
Oh, and eat more soup. Thanks for reading, friends.
There are only two more weeks to eat everything one last time! Send Tim some hot tips for the best things to eat on campus at firstname.lastname@example.org.