Dining hall faux pas

As I said in my last opinion piece, I have received a wonderful positive reaction from American students about my Australian nationality. However, recently I was standing in the line at Cooper Dining Hall with another exchange student from New Zealand when we experienced a negative reaction. We were talking about whether he could bring his bottle of water into Cooper when a girl behind us said to another girl, "I thought we were in the lunch line, not the special foreigners’ line."

Firstly, if you’re going to be xenophobic, at least be original or entertaining about it. Secondly, what does that even mean? This comment irritated me for the rest of the day, though mainly because I didn’t turn around and slap the girl. This demonstration of bad manners made me think of other situations where dining hall etiquette needs to be established.

One faux pas which is particularly heinous is line cutting. While this is not that frequent, there are occasional instances where some person plagued with a superiority complex cuts in front of people who have been waiting in line. One line that you should never cut (if indeed you were the sort of lowly creature who would cut lines) is the Cooper ice cream line. This is a sacred line – it is always long, but it is always so worth it once you have your ice cream of choice in your hands. Therefore, it is especially appalling when someone cuts in front of you to receive their ice cream before you, without the long wait.

On one occasion, a French exchange student cut to the very front of the line, mistakenly believing that because his friends were there, it would be all right to just walk right in. While the people behind him did not complain, it was obvious that everyone in the line was silently hating the French man. He didn’t deserve ice cream because he hadn’t had to wait like the rest of us. Waiting in line for ice cream at Cooper is a part of the experience. It should be graciously tolerated and not ignored.

I thought fashion in the dining hall was not really an issue until last Sunday when a girl in a corset and leather mini-skirt walked into the dining hall. I don’t know what the average reader thinks, but personally I would never wear a leather mini-skirt and corset to a dining hall. You’re going into a casual atmosphere to eat lunch, which could be potentially messy. Wearing this outfit just seemed wrong and a little scary. As Australian exchange student Josie Rollin says, "We don’t want to see your goodies next to the cookies."

On the rare occasion that I’ve been to Lakeside, I’ve celebrated the dishroom system where you just put your tray on the rotating holder, but I’ve also been assaulted by the number of nauseating couples on a "date" at Lakeside. It seems to be the romantic place to take your significant other. Beautiful views of the lake, Chinese food and…plastic trays? On behalf of all the girls out there, I encourage boys to take a girl on a real date – one that doesn’t involve dining hall ladies with hairnets.

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