Oberlin Blogs

Dining hall conversations

July 21, 2009

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

One morning, shortly after the beginning of last year's fall semester, I was eating breakfast in Stevenson, Oberlin's largest dining hall. Most people don't go to the dining hall to eat breakfast, opting either to eat quickly in their room or to sleep a bit longer, but I've found that I definitely need breakfast to function properly. Generally, I eat breakfast by myself, mainly because there's no one there. This particular morning was no different. I'd settled in to consume my bagel and was considering procuring a doughnut when someone came up to my table.

"Hi! Can I sit with you?"

I looked up and smiled at the person standing there. I'd never seen her before, but I figured why not? "Sure," I said.

She sat down, and we discussed the usual things you discuss when you first meet someone--possible majors, what classes you're taking, anything exciting that you've done lately. Once we'd finished eating, we parted ways, and I expected not to see her again, unless we wound up in a class together somewhere down the road. It was just one of those random dining hall connections that sometimes happen.

Sometime later, I was eating dinner by myself, again in Stevenson. I have the tendency to eat earlier than most of my friends, usually because I'm under the (mostly) mistaken belief that if I eat earlier I'll get more work done in the evening. As you've probably guessed, the girl and I encountered each other again, and again we ate together.

This time, our conversation was much more varied, branching out from our current classes to other classes we thought we might take and classes we wished were offered. By the next time we ate together, our discussions had moved to even weightier topics. One that really sticks in my mind is a talk we had about religion. She's Jewish and I'm Christian, and we managed to have a very long discussion about the various idiosyncrasies of both religions.

It was one of the best conversations I'd had in a long time, and from there we kept moving on from one topic to the next. I found myself casually pushing my food around on my plate even though I was done eating just so that we could prolong the conversation. Needless to say, I didn't have time to get extra work done that night.

Since then, we've still only met up at meals, and then only when we happen to run into each other. Which, I guess, is the point of this entry. This sort of thing may happen on other campuses, too, I'm not sure, but I think it's pretty unique that two people, who are almost complete strangers, start having conversations about such (potentially) touchy subjects so quickly. It goes to show you the kind of people Oberlin attracts.

Similar Blog Entries