Bonnie Lin '19 - Introduction

Bonnie standing in front of a wall covered in pink flowers

Writing introductions does not get easier the second (or ninth) time around. I am a returning blogger for the academic year, after blogging for the Office of Admission during the summer of 2016. Even though I have had two years of blogging experience and an even longer streak of reading blogs, I wish I could say that communicating on this platform has become second nature to me.

For those meeting me for the first time, hello, my name is Bonnie Lin! I am a junior majoring in statistics with a focus on neuroscience. I am one of the numerous students hailing from California, but I am one of the fewer lucky ones from San Diego. However, this semester, I cannot relish the chance to witness the thrill of the first snow for some of my fellow Californians because I am abroad. With a twelve hour time difference, I am blogging from Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, as an exchange student at National Cheng Chi University (政治大學).

My goals for this blog are to establish a more consistent publishing schedule, fire up my writing brain, and create a space for questions and reflections about Amherst. Whether you are a future, current, or past member of the Amherst community, I welcome you to follow me on this blogging journey. Together, we can challenge, grow from, and learn about each other and those around us.

Let's connect beyond this blog! Email me at linbonnieyz@gmail.com.

Disconcerting

At rehearsal last week, I asked Greg Brown, the interim choral director, “So what songs are we expected to memorize?” He responded matter-of-factly, “All of them.” I froze. We had just learned the lyrics two weeks ago, and our concert was a week out.

For previous concerts, Mallorie Chernin, our then-choral director, allowed us to carry music onto the stage, but she still held expectations for us to keep our eyes on her conducting. I naively took this for granted and transferred what I was used to with Mallorie to Greg. To make matters worse, this was the seniors’ final concert and we had put together a really diverse repertoire. Not only were the stakes higher, wanting to end the seniors’ run with Chorus with a bang, but the songs that we had to now memorize included folk songs representing various cultures, like that of the Hawaiian, Swedish, Japanese, Hungarian, and Arabic. Even singing with the text, my tongue and mind wrestled with the syllables of the lyrics; memorizing the songs in a week seemed like a hopeless cause. There was just no way we could force these songs into our memory in time.  

At the end of the rehearsal, Greg tasked me with setting up extra rehearsals over the weekend, an added responsibility that came with my position as President. Out of respect and admiration for the senior class, a large reason that brought me back from abroad for the spring semester, I was driven to push the group as far as we could go. Together, we set up three rehearsal sessions and made plans to focus on specific songs for each session.

Prior to the first rehearsal, I worried about my own inability to memorize the music to my standards. Before college, I had never sang in a chorus; my only musical background was in classical piano and orchestral violin, so employing techniques of integrating the music into memory through muscle memory felt more familiar. I fretted over being unable to share any personal insight to helping the group memorize the repertoire. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I showed up to the rehearsal room early, and drilled myself into practicing: playing the piano to accompany my singing. An hour passed, and no one showed up for the first rehearsal. People told me that they had practiced on their own, and I had to calm my nerves and trust that everything would work out in the end.

Turnout improved for the second and third rehearsal, and, thankfully, there were others who were more experienced in choral music than I was. They stepped in and helped facilitate the rehearsal, breaking up the music into components, identifying weak links, and leading us into singing at various speeds. Still, by the end of the rehearsals, some felt like we should refocus our efforts into convincing Greg to let us use the music on stage. When the actual rehearsal came around, we were ready to profess our thoughts to Greg. Before we could, Greg set us into warmups and quickly into running through the pieces off-book, without the music.

It was not miraculous. The text fell apart, and we assigned gibberish sounds that were close to the right pitches, but the music wasn’t wholly disastrous and we ended together. Despite our hopes that Greg would empathize with our struggles and forfeit this goal, he insisted. We had one more rehearsal after this one, and we had to be off-book by then. The last rehearsal before the concert came along, and we still hadn’t met 100% of our goal, but we refused to give up. Greg decided to let us use the text for the Hawaiian piece, on the condition that the other pieces were solidly memorized. Outside of rehearsal, I carried my music everywhere I went, and I saw other members of the chorus diligently putting their share of the work.

On the afternoon of the concert, we were a mix of eagerness and terror, wanting to celebrate our incredible seniors, but also wavering under our confidence. The concert wasn’t perfect, but it surely played out better than what I had imagined the prior week when Greg answered my question. As expected, the Senior Song left us emotional, but we kicked off the night with a post-concert party, where we joyfully belted pop songs, stumbling over some words in different verses, but proudly following through. How perfect we were at performing didn’t matter to us as much as reveling in the atmosphere of compathy, and knowing that made our time together sublime.

Weather or Not I Should Enroll

We talk about weather more frequently here than we do back home in San Diego. Why is weather such a hot conversation starter? Maybe so many of us resort to talking about the weather because, unlike the comparingly very consistent weather back home, weather here is easily described as capricious.

Come April 19, and just outside my dorm window, I cannot believe that snow is falling seemingly without end. By this time of the year, many students ungrudgingly store their heaviest winter gear and flaunt outfits that will allow them to absorb as much Vitamin D as possible. Yet, our expectations fall with the snow as we unpack our winter coats and boots. Trudging through the terrible weather makes it hard to feel that the end of the semester is so near. In just two weeks will be the last week of classes, but this weather forces us to step back into the misery of January/February.

Even though the weather at Amherst historically takes a turn for the better, conveniently, for Admitted Students Weekend, this weekend was a bit of an anomaly. April showers persisted, and pre-frosh (our endearing term for the prospective first year Mammoths) complained about their poor packing decisions, particularly those for their shoes. As they walked around campus to visit classes for the day, their shoes became increasingly drenched and their socks grew increasingly soggier. For many individuals and family, their stroke of luck, or in other words, the weather during a visit, can be a instrumental factor in their final college decision.   

Once I made it indoors to Val, our dining hall, I ran into a current first year, who I met as my hostee last year, who declared that she paid it forward and hosted a pre-frosh this weekend. As we parted ways, I forgot to ask her why she ended up matriculating at Amherst. Through casually asking around current students as well as the prospective students about why they chose to attend Amherst, I have found the more common reasons that have come up are about the Open Curriculum and financial aid. It is really important to know what you want out of your college experience and compare those expectations to the existing resources and culture of a campus. Visiting the campus helps students make this comparison; seeing how other students interact with each other, faculty, and staff can shape their idea of exactly what they want and what the school can offer them.

The entire school’s culture and resources can’t be fully communicated through a mere weekend, but making connections with current students can allow prospective students to carry on conversations to help solidify their decision. In addition, developing a sense of purpose or making personal goals can really help one navigate the ups and downs of the academic life at Amherst. Especially on days with abominable weather, everything I utter becomes a jeremiad over why I ever moved out of the Southern California warmth and into the dynamic New England weather. It takes a while to recall that high school me had longed for an East Coast college adventure because of its supposed culture difference, the intellectual scene, and wanting to broaden my network. It’s why I’m here, and it’s what I’ve received.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Trees by the Robert Frost Trail

View on Robert Frost Trail

After recently experiencing a couple of tragedies, the campus is going through a time of emotions, sorrow, shock and confusion. The loss of community members, especially at a small institution, sends rippling effects. Their lives, accomplishments, and must be acknowledged alongside the effects that they have left on us. In response to these events, Amherst pooled its resources to organize several events to help people formally and informally gather. In these spaces, we were asked to share and lift each other’s heavy thoughts and spirits. Through gentle words and appropriate silence, I felt a profound sense of hollowness, solitude, and yet, companionship through it all. Friends and faculty shared their fondest memories, and, as I listened to them share the student’s best attributes -- his compassion, generosity, and humanity-- I thought about my own relationships and resolved to remember him through fostering deeper relationships and caring for others.

Though I didn’t know the student personally, the impact that he made on his family, peers and many others is very clear. When his family arrived onto the campus for the community-wide gathering, they noticed that a student group on campus called Active Minds had concurrently showcased an exhibition acknowledging mental health on campus, prompting two-way conversations among students about their assumptions, biases, misperceptions, and clarifications. The student and his family were very generous and open about his experiences with mental health and, during the gathering, we were encouraged to lean in for each other, hold each other, and watch out for each other.

It is important to recognize the diversity in reactions and coping mechanisms. The institution has made available numerous resources for everyone in the community, extending them to include the student’s family. For some, it can be helpful to travel off campus, as if coming up for air after a long swim. Going off campus to run errands get reminds us to reintroduce routine to our lives, and hiking up the nearby mountains revitalizes our sense of connection to nature and with each other. I thank him for his work and great accomplishments, and I hold his family, friends, all that were affected, in my thoughts, and I wish them well as they progress through grieving and healing.

Robert Frost Nothing Gold Can Stay

Get Rekt by L1p $ync

With 99% of the students who live on campus, Amherst College prides itself as a residential college. Prior to arriving on campus, first-year students complete a housing application, in which they answer questions about their lifestyle habits and hobbies. The Office of Residential Life traditionally read through all applications and paired students based on the two having lifestyle habits and different hobbies, but now they have replaced this process with a computer algorithm, which supposedly operates the same way.

During my first year, I lived on an all-women’s, substance-free floor, which we endearingly termed “The Nunnery”. Having considered attending an all-women’s college, I thought that this placement was a serendipitous move on Life’s part, and I ended up loving my experience with my floormates. I am still very good friends with some of the nuns, and we even welcomed into our community an honorary nun our second semester.

After our first year, instead of establishing the sophomore, junior, and senior counterparts to the First Year Quad, Amherst College students enter a lottery system called Room Draw. We can enter Room Draw by ourselves or with a group; Room Draw assigns class-based numbers to each student, averages the numbers within each group, and “randomizes” the ordered list. Our strokes of luck are put to the test in the list’s ordering. Some of the unlucky folk doubt that the list is randomized because as a friend of mine lamented to me, “I’ve been at the bottom of the Room Draw for three years.”

For the ones who want to take these matters into their own hands and change their ill-fated destinies, they do have one chance for this. They can compete in the Lip Sync battle, the winners of which get first dibs on housing selection. Should they choose to participate, they have just a few days to select a song/songs, choreograph, put together a skit, rehearse, and then perform at Johnson Chapel, entertaining crowds of their peers with sheer humiliation.

Lip Sync

Rising sophomore group performing Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball 

This week, we held the Lip Sync competition, which is an opportunity for students to vie for the top spot in their classes on the Room Draw list. The Office of Residential Life maintains this tradition that occurs every Spring, and it is a great way for students to showcase their dancing and lip sync talents. Because there have been some really impressive performances during Lip Sync battles, I was looking forward to this year’s, but only four groups participated. Since a winner is deemed for each year, for three slots, four groups didn’t make for a hearty competition. Two groups won automatically, so there was only competition between two rising junior groups. Even so, the effort and courage that the groups put in are praiseworthy. Perhaps, the competition is more so one of intrepidity than of artisticness, and one could consider putting this on an Amherst bucket list. I certainly am. ;)

The Old Line State

And we’re back! Not quite at Amherst… We are traveling up north back to New York for our shuttle back to Amherst. My face plastered against the hourglass, I helplessly watch as the last grains of the Spring Break fall. This break, I had the experience of staying over with an Amherst student in Maryland, where I had one of my best spring breaks ever. Most students at Amherst would say the people are the school’s greatest feature, and this spring break, I was able to experience “home” for one of my closest friends.  And I enjoyed every moment of it. As another student put it, “I love meeting Amherst students outside of Amherst because we are so much less stressed and much happier.”

Back in my friend’s hometown, I met people who were as excited to meet me as I them. In front of me were some of the friends who had grown up alongside and had played an integral role in shaping my friend, and they were eager to know a friend from college, a friend “from the other side”, if you will.  Even though these people were new friends to me, they were old friends to my friend. By nature of our varying levels of familiarity with each other, the conversation flowed between catching up on old gossip and basic icebreaker introductions. Yet, we all still got along, and it got me thinking about adults who complain about how difficult it is to make friends outside of work, post-college. The popular advice is to join clubs and meet people who share your hobbies/interests, but merging different social clubs is another way. Hybrid conversations that come out of the latter will just have to become more like second nature.

In addition to meeting my friend’s middle school and high school friends, I introduced my friend and another friend from Amherst to a friend that I met while studying abroad. He went to school in Virginia and traveled up to D.C. to have a mini reunion and meet my friends. Because the first day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, we planned to go out to D.C. on Saturday. We visited the museums of the National Mall, even though the unanticipated cold had delayed the blooming of the cherry blossoms. As expected, my friend from abroad asked us questions, like “How did you all meet?” and “How did you all grow close to each other?” Telling him about how we were all first-year dorm floormates brought back a sense of sentimental joy, as I realized that we had known each other for three years. It dawned on me that we would be seniors all-too-soon.

This spring break was a delicate and beautiful collage of exchanging stories about the past, whether they were about middle school romances (if we can call them that) or about adventurous endeavors while abroad, taking steps toward our future in the form of applications and interviews, and indulging in  much-needed relaxing. I give partial credit to Amherst for enabling me to have these experiences, for bringing these wonderful people into my life. But my friend and her family deserve a larger cut of the credit for their keeping their patience, not kicking me out and sending me back to Amherst. Traveling is often considered the truest test of friendship, and though I can now say that I understand my friend on a much deeper level than before, I am more thankful that we can say that we are still not only friends, but we are also travel buddies. Adieu, spring break.

Silhouette of friends at Jefferson Memorial

 

 

Anything Goes During Spring Break

Though situated in a rural/suburban (more so rural) community, Amherst College is about a three hour drive to NYC and a two hour drive to Boston. For Spring Break, Amherst College organizes free shuttles to Bradley International Airport and New York City(NYC). On Saturday, I took one of the busses down to NYC with a couple of friends. We were fortunate enough to stay over at a friend’s apartment. This friend had recently graduated from Mount Holyoke, one of the two traditionally all-women’s schools in the Five College Consortium. Because students can cross-register for courses within the Consortium, we met her through an Amherst College American Studies class about Asian-Americans. My friendship with her remains the most valuable takeaway from that class, although that’s not to discredit the enrichment that the content or the discussions of the course provided.

Catching up with a friend who knew what life in the Pioneer Valley was like, I could relate to her thoughts about moving from within a college bubble to a city that seems to know no limits. Every time I visit NYC, it requires some time to make a passable amount of sense of the place. Even though a weekend is surely not enough time for this objective, it’s hard to imagine that people ever grow entirely accustomed to the constant change that the city seems to embody.

Growing up in a suburb of San Diego, I felt a change in environment when I first adjusted to the small-town life in Western Massachusetts. Because Amherst students have so much work and often feel deprived of free time, we rarely even venture off campus to the small college town. As a result, unless we have spent significant time either living or interning in cities, many of us feel like fish out of water during outings to densely populated cities, like Taipei and New York. When we spun around to orient ourselves on Google Maps, locals commented “You all look lost” and made moments of eye contact before rushing off to their destinations, as if they were expecting us to grasp those moments and ask for help. Most of the time, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of direction, but no matter how hard I tried to piece together an intuitive map of the city, the sequence of avenues and streets still proved to be challenging to navigate.

Environment largely shapes one’s character. Spending a mere weekend in New York has instilled a very aggressive pedestrian in me as I followed New Yorkers into the crosswalks, giving themselves the right of way and forcing cars to stop mid-turn, sometimes even without glancing both directions. Because most streets (or avenues?) were one direction, less people would look both directions before crossing the street. There was a pronounced sense of an instinctive “Let fate take the reins”.

Senses overstimulated from the frustrated car honks, wailing ambulances, irresistible whiffs of the bakery and halal carts, and #ootds featuring an array of colors and textures, I enjoyed my evenings the most. We stumbled into discovering some cafes by my Mount Holyoke friend’s apartment and spent quite some time in them. I found solace in the general atmosphere of dimmed lights, rhythmic music, and a collective sense of productivity. As delicious as the food was and as fascinating as the people were, New York didn’t quite feel as comfortable as Amherst to me. I was ready to jump onto the bus and continue spring breaking on a southbound trek. Until next time…see you later, New York!

Thai food

First dinner-Somtum der mushroom salad

Thai food

Somtum der mushroom salad with coconut rice

Dim Sum

Dorit '19 and I stopped by Chinatown for dimsum brunch

eggplant roll

Snacked on an eggplant roll after strolling through the Finance District

10/10 beautiful, godsend acai bowls

Breakfast at Pause Cafe: heavenly acai bowls

Doing work at the Black Cat Cafe

Spent a lot of time at the Black Cat Cafe (Would highly recommend their Peach Blossom White Tea and their Blueberry Rooibos Red Tea)

 And if you have been wondering what my FB newsfeed has looked like for more than a year now...here's an exclusive sneak peek! 

Took a picture at our friend's workplace

On our way out, we took an obligatory #Squad picture

 

On Regret

If I limited my blog posts to what happened this week, you would have to bear through a boring speel about my midterms. But in the rare case that you are interested though...in a nutshell, I disabled my phone’s access to Internet and did nothing but study in the library’s basement. Exhilarating, right?

Instead, I wanted to take some time to talk about regrets. Before I begin, in general, I try to live a regret-free life, but I will write under the prompt of “If I had to make a list of things that I would regret, what would be one thing on that list?”. What I mean by leading a regret-free life is that I try incredibly hard to see purpose in every action, thought, or circumstance; in other words, I try to put everything in perspective and imagine some sort of productive result. Granted, trying incredibly hard doesn’t necessitate 100% success, but it’s still something that I work on. Putting that aside, I’ll start with some context for this conversation.

In high school, my biggest goal was to be well-rounded. I wanted to be good at everything. When I carried this mentality to college, I became attracted to almost all of the clubs at the club fair. As I scribbled my name and email address over and over on various club sign up sheets, I could imagine myself constructing buildings for those who needed shelter, volunteering at animal shelters, doing arts and crafts, interacting with local children, and so many more. Notification emails flowed profusely into my inbox, and I thoroughly enjoyed attending many events, gaining out-of-classroom knowledge and meeting many of my peers. I was happy with myself.

Then, sophomore year came along, feeling overconfident about my academic abilities, I signed up for an even more time-intensive extracurricular and watched my academics descend. I neglected to properly identify this problem as a pattern and waved each succeeding step down as “just another fluke”. I remember my academic advisor sitting me down one day and breaking down my commitments by the amount of time each one consumed. At the end of the meeting, I had to ask myself “How important are academics? Where are you making the time to learn and study?” And the truth is: my answers disappointed me and shocked me into action. Going abroad for a semester really helped me to drop commitments that I realized I was not passionate about and gave me the time and space to rethink my priorities. Now, being back on campus, I have the opportunities to act on these prioritizations. (Health and academics definitely top the list.)

I can’t say that translating my high school goal to a college context has been very successful. It came upon me that the nature of the goal prevented me from excelling at any one thing in particular and that the goal manifested as an unhealthy overcommitment to extraneous activities. Especially because college required that I declare a major, I realized that my numerous involvements were not making me fully happy and did not help me excel in my chosen field.

If I could redo college, I would have more strongly prioritized on academics and focused my time on just two extracurriculars. But, at this point, the damage is done and all I can do is take away what I can. Do I regret my choices though? Not completely, I’m content with where I am now and am eager to find out where I will move forward to next.

 

P.S. Completely by coincidence, it is March 4th today, which is known as Do Something Day because its homophonous name encourages people to put in extra effort to improve their lives and “March Forth” toward their personal objectives and reach their aspirations.

Takeaways from "Lessons from a CEO" (Amherst Alum Edition)

Four days ago, the Loeb Center for Career Exploration arranged for a lunch discussion between current students and Frits Dirk van Paasschen, an ‘83 Amherst alum. I reserved the morning of the event, intrigued by the seemingly winding string of experiences in his introduction and, admittedly, attracted to the catering from Fresh Side, my favorite spot in town.

The session was broken up into two sections: a biographical speech and a Q&A. As expected, he began his tale in the Amherst chapter. As a son of two immigrant physicians, first year Frits stepped onto the campus, expecting an eventual future in medical school. He was on the pre-med track and majored in economics, thinking that it would prepare him to generate business better than his father. (Did I mention that I liked his sense of humor?) Eventually, he grew to love his biology classes so much that he declared a double major with the Biology department. Like his pre-med classmates, he began his applications to medical schools as an upperclassman. When more and more interviewers asked him, “Why medicine?”, he grew personally disconnected to his scripted response and decided to cancel his applications. Not knowing what else to do, he asked his floormates for advice and received a list of financial institution names. Not having much to lose, with no experience in finance or business, he plunged in. Over the years, he has experienced many changes (fired more than once), faced numerous forks in the road, which have carved his life insights. I will share some of the most impressionable ones here:

  1. Keep an inventory of what you like and dislike (Reflect upon each experience, whether it is satisfactory or not, and answer the questions “Why did I like/dislike my time doing __?” Knowing yourself and your preferences will help to establish a more customized path for your future)
  2. Set priorities and act accordingly (When the workload got heavier in his job and the company’s motto, “Client first”, no longer agreed with his emerging sentiment of “Family first”, he quit and began focusing his energy on his family)
  3. Figure out what you are good at and what you want to be good at (One of the most important lessons that he learned was that time was a more valuable and limited resource than money. As such, he advocates everyone to ask and answer for themselves, “Do I really want to do this?”. Life is too short to waste time on experiences you feel mediocre or unhappy about.)
  4. Willingly and intentionally fail (Our generation is too averse to risk. His generation was silly, goofed off frequently, and he attributes a lot of his life philosophies to those times of tomfoolery. To him, every experience offers learning opportunities, but these are most concentrated in failures, which is why he encourages young folk to change their perfectionist mindsets to allow for mistakes and “do stupid things”. He reminds us that failure is not at all an indicator of one’s inherent intelligence.)  
  5. When someone asks, “What do you imagine yourself doing in five years?”, it is more than fine to truthfully say “I don’t know”

After declaring that medical school was not going to be included in his next life chapter, he had to pose thought-provoking questions to himself, and many times, he had inconclusive answers. Yet, not having his life together, as we might now say, he still managed to work at Coors Brewing, Nike, Disney, McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and Starwood. There is no such thing as a linear career path anymore. Although many argue that a liberal arts education is no longer relevant in today’s tech-driven market, I would argue that by imparting effective communication, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills to me, Amherst has prepared me for a future in learning and embracing the challenges associated with change.

Celebrating Valentine's Day Every Day

I confess: I cannot compose haikus, odes, sonnets, or songs. Basically, I cannot produce any kind of poetry or any semblance of it. But... if I could, I would dedicate one to Val, our dining hall.

Affectionately nicknamed Val, Valentine Dining Hall has been Amherst College’s only dining hall. It has been that way to foster a common ground, an environment, for community building. While I was abroad, I had surprising moments of missing Val. In the midst of adding places to my “Want to Go” list and moving them to my “Been There, Done That” list on Google Maps, the college’s dining hall would creep into my thoughts.

Being the only dining hall on campus has its perks and its downsides. It is very convenient. Often, when students want to snack on something, they have their go-to cereal, salad, pizza, toast, or fruits. Being on the meal plan and having unlimited swipes here really help with that.  Also, consistently dining here helps me to more greatly appreciate occasional town outings. As the only dining hall, Val also gives all it’s got to receiving student opinions and making changes. It is very focused on serving students, its main patrons, to the best of its abilities. The dining staff is sensitive toward individual preferences, allergies, other food restrictions and will happily attend to requests and cook up alternatives. Students come in and out, often partaking in the activity of hanging out at the dining hour for long chunks of time, infamously known as “Val sitting”. Some days, I’ll realize that two hours have flown by with engaging conversations. Also, it is not uncommon to see faculty dine here. Whether they are quietly dining alone, waiting in line for food with their spouse and children, or chatting away with a student advisee, the dynamism of the community is undeniable.

At the same time, however, having to see the same faces day in and day, especially those that have similar dining times as you, can be stressful. Frequently, students find themselves running into unfamiliar acquaintances and internally debate about whether or not to strike up a conversation while waiting in line. Furthermore, sometimes, it leaves us with the short makings of small talk and the ubiquitous “We should grab a meal sometime” conversation ender.

Reading archived newspieces in the Amherst Student and checking their timestamps reminds me that I shouldn’t take for granted the features of Val’s current design. Amenities, like the vertical three-layered tray accumulator, the drinks station, and the colorfully-designed floor tiles, weren’t always there. Similarly, unless they were patrons before last fall, the first years didn’t get to experience the huge smoothie cups, the make it yourself smoothie station, salt/pepper shakers at every table, and the fruits around the middle pole of the server. These changes and hearing student opinions about them give me a sense of pride in knowing that there can be some sense of community built around the institution.

Overall, I am very thankful for my experiences with Val. Sure, some meals are not so satisfactory, but I don't have to worry about not being full and figuring out how to find my next meal. Sure, they may not deliver home-made quality for foods of other cultures, but I've loved trying out new things and expanding the boundaries of my cultural knowledge. And sure, it’s not ranked top or anywhere close in list for any college/university dining halls (I know you’re there, UMass), but I’ll still give it credit for being the best one on campus.