For many students, moving into an off-campus apartment is the first time you’re truly responsible for finding furniture, cleaning your living space, keeping track of bill payments, and, most importantly, feeding yourself — essentially everything that comes along with “adulting.” When I moved into my first apartment two months ago, I was excited for the independence that would come with it, but also equally, if not more, nervous about all these new responsibilities. However, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that taking care of these responsibilities gives me a break from my schoolwork, and there’s none I get more satisfaction from than cooking for myself.
Coming from a relatively “foodie” family (think Sunday mornings spent picking up ingredients at the farmer’s market and planning menus for holiday meals weeks in advance), cooking has always been a big part of my life. My mom sent me to cooking camp when I was only eight years old with the hope that I’d come back ready to make dinner for the entire family. Unfortunately, she jumped the gun a little bit on this one, as the most I was ever allowed to do that summer was chop up a tomato. The older campers took care of actually putting together the recipes, much to my disappointment. Despite this false start, I did eventually gain some level of competence in the kitchen. My mom achieved her goal of being able to hand me a recipe and come back to dinner on the table a couple hours later. And with the extra time I had during quarantine, I spent a good amount of time experimenting in the kitchen.
Therefore, I wasn’t worried about my ability to feed myself, just about finding the time to fit this into the busy schedule of a UC Berkeley student. Since classes started six weeks ago, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the time I spend cooking a welcome break from the monotonous routine of Zoom classes, homework, and meetings. My kitchen has become a haven where my eyes don’t burn from staring at a computer screen. Sure, there are nights when I simply don’t have time to cook and find myself scrambling to throw something together, dismayed at the fact that I don’t have any leftovers or snacks in the pantry to tide me over. And there have surely been plenty of times when I’ve realized just how much I took having a fully-stocked kitchen at home for granted — who knew salt and pepper made such a difference! But for the most part, I’ve found much more joy than I could’ve imagined in cooking myself a delicious dinner to cure my Zoom fatigue. It’s the perfect form of productive procrastination if you ask me.
Maybe you’ve never set foot in a kitchen before and are planning to rely on Cal Dining for the entirety of your college experience, or maybe it’s been a couple of years since you last made yourself some mac n’ cheese from a box. Whatever the case may be, I encourage you to try cooking something! Who says take out and instant noodles have to be the end of the story for college students? It’s easier than you imagine to make some pasta with sauce from a jar and call it a meal. Sauté some vegetables to eat on the side if you’re feeling really fancy. At the end of the day, what matters is that you made it for yourself!