Food for thought

One of the most unifying aspects of human existence is the need to eat. Every man, woman, and child on this planet needs to consume some form of nutrition on a regular basis to sustain life. College students are no exception to this general rule. Indeed, if my personal experience has taught me anything it’s that food plays a more important role in a college student’s life than in most other cases. The combination of youth-inspired appetites, lack of disposable income, and an unusual schedule place food concerns high on the list for students. I am writing this article to reassure you that once you begin your studies at UIS, you will not lack for places to eat.

Now, even if you don’t live on campus, you may occasionally want to eat in one of the school run cafeterias. There are a few scattered around UIS, but the Food Emporium located in the basement of the PAC will probably be your most frequent destination. For those of you who have come from larger colleges, the Emporium’s selection might seem a bit small, however, they do always have a great variety of choices that can be prepared right when you order them. Additionally they also have a standard salad bar and a constantly changing menu on prepared meals. The only major downside is that they charge by item, so you’ll have to be careful about what you order, or else you will quickly deplete the funds in your meal plan, if you have one. Just remember that they don’t take credit cards so bring cash, or use your i-card.

Of course, no one wants to eat every meal at the dining center. For those students commuting to school, this might be impractical as well. Luckily, Springfield is home to a wide variety of restaurants that can satisfy most cravings. It would take too long to list the places that might interest new students, but should you have access to some form of vehicular transportation, you’ll find a decent selection to explore. For those students without a car, there is a pretty reliable bus system in town that can usually get you near where you want to go, so long as you don’t mind walking a little. Like any other American city there is a wealth of fast food restaurants that can come in handy when you’re in a hurry. My personal favorite, at the moment, is a Subway located southwest of campus, which incorporates, with varied success, a drive-through window.

For those students in a poor financial situation, or ones that simply prefer to prepare their own food, there are a fair number of grocery stores located a short distance from campus. The closest of these is a Walmart Supercenter about 3 minutes away. While not technically a grocery store, the do have a decent selection of food. Should you not want to shop at Walmart, there is an Aldi’s located just across the street from the Supercenter. For those of you who don’t know, Aldi’s is a low-cost grocery store that does not use bags. So long as you don’t mind carrying your items in a box, which you will have to scavenge from the shelves, it is a good place to shop since the prices are hard to beat. Just remember that you need a quarter to use a cart, although you can get it back afterwards.

So, new students don’t have to worry. You will not go hungry while you are here, and you will have a great deal of choice when it comes to getting your next meal. Since most people only experience college once, it never hurts to be a bit adventurous with your eating habits. So try out that new restaurants, cook for yourself occasionally, and feel free to splurge every once in awhile. Who knows, if you feel particularly adventurous you might even want to travel to St. Louis or Chicago to sample the culinary opportunities each city has to offer.