-- by Mike Hughes '10
With a full week of classes under my belt, I've finally settled back into Olin after spending last spring abroad. It's great to be back among old friends. One my favorite things about Olin, though, is that some of the people I was excited to see again were not fellow students or even professors. They were dining hall staff. And after not seeing me in eight months, they still remembered my name.
I've blogged before about how much I enjoy hanging out in the dining hall (I'm writing this post here now). It's huge and well lit by floor to ceiling windows. The food is almost always delicious and filling. But looking back, the biggest draw for me is the people.
The ladies among the staff always greet me with "Hello Michael!" and ask how I am and how my life is going. They even made sure to check in with my friends before I even arrived on campus this fall to see if I was still dating my girlfriend , so they would be in the know and not make any awkward mistakes. They care a great deal about the students here and are always willing to help us find ice for someone who gets hurt on the soccer field or help us get food for a sick roommate.
I also love joking around with the guys who work the grill or the entree sections. One of my favorite dining hall memories happened two years ago, when a professor made such good friends with one of the cooks that he got to work a lunch shift for a day. He wore the full chef's outfit (including the sweet hat) and dished out his "special potatoes" to all of the Olin community.
Olin's dining hall staff goes out of its way to make sure they know students' names and really try to be a part of our community instead of just people we happen to bump into everyday. When I'm lost in the rush of classes and clubs and social events, I really savor the three times a day can come "home" to a delicious meal surrounded by friends, both at my table and behind the counter. This is one of the huge advantages of Olin's close-knit community, and one of the things I will miss the most after graduation.