Meal Plan and Money

After much consideration, I felt like my column was getting too deep. So, this week I wanted to share how I make the most of the unlimited meal plan and save money going to the city. Hopefully, it can be useful!

With an unlimited meal plan, you can eat a lot of food. Often times, it’s not that you eat everything, but too much of the things that you like. Like I’ll eat ice cream twice a day just because it’s there. Or I’ll swipe into Pierce just to get fries. I find myself explaining meal exchange to a lot of people, so I’ll try my best to address it here, once and for all. At any of the not-Pierce on campus dining locations, you can get one meal: a main item, a drink and a snack item generally, in exchange for a meal swipe. You don’t have to pay duckbills or money, it’s free. You would be surprised how many people think you have to pay! If you have unlimited swipes, you can get three meal exchanges a day, once during each time block. The meal exchange time blocks are 7 AM to 11 AM, 11 AM to 4 PM, and 4 PM to 9:30 PM.  If you meal exchange during a block, you  cannot get into Pierce until the next block starts. Here’s an example: You can go to Howe at 10 AM to get a meal exchange from Pierce Cafe, a snack maybe. Then you can walk into Pierce Dining Hall at 11, a new block. Later, your friends wanna get lunch, say 2 at America’s Cup, and you can. Since you just meal exchanged, you can’t get back into Pierce until 4, but you’ve honestly ate so much, you shouldn’t go anyway. Hopefully, I’ve made it simpler to understand.

The fun surrounds Washington Street Wednesday. Is it a meal exchange? Is it a swipe? Allegedly, it counts as a “meal exchange”, however, two weeks ago I went to America’s Cup, meal exchanged, and went to Boardwalk right after! I’m speculating it’s not actually a meal exchange, because if you’ve noticed, they swipe the same black thing that all the clubs use to track attendance, and not the regular duckbills machine. You can really milk a lot of food out of the system if you know the rules. But you shouldn’t because then you might have to visit the dietitian who’s on all of the napkin containers. Bonus: a lot of people have asked me what Pierce II is. It is just the area for people with allergies. If you go inside, you will see a separate dining area and kitchen with a secret Stir-Fry station. It’s really, really good, as long as you know how to make stir fry, or know someone who can teach you. I definitely recommend trying it out, but do not go there too often. It’s meant for the allergy kids, after all.

Kind of unrelated; there are many ways to get to the city. You can take the PATH, the bus, the ferry, drive in (why would you do that from Hoboken though); I’ve even heard about a water taxi. But in general, the most economical way to get into the city entirely depends on where you’re going, and when. Everyone knows to take the PATH. But, on the weekends the only NYC PATH station is the World Trade Center. If you’re going to Central Park or MOMA, that’s a four mile walk through the city. You have to take the subway. But if you are going to 42nd, plus or minus a few blocks, the bus costs only seven dollars round trip. Last weekend, I tried the bus. Miraculously, the payment thing wasn’t working, so we only had to pay for the trip back. With the extra $6.50, I got bubble tea feeling proud that I still saved money. Because having money is good. Not having money kind of isn’t.

Those are my tips for eating on campus and travelling to the city. I do want to talk about services the school offers eventually, like tutoring, counseling, or the student center but not yet. I just haven’t had a reason to check them out yet. Maybe during finals I’ll go, when I’ll need them.