‘What will they be serving today at the cafeteria?’ You might have wondered this when considering going for lunch with your friend after class. 'How about coming to Sookmyung Women’s University for lunch today?' Perhaps, you’ve asked your friends from other universities to join you at Sookmyung Women’s University or have been invited to have lunch at their schools’ cafeterias. Having lunch at the school’s cafeteria is quickly becoming a great way to get familiar and being close to friends while enjoying life on campus. Then, what are some things you consider when deciding what to eat and what to chit-chat about over that meal? Instead of pondering today’s homework, how about thinking pleasurably about a meal on campus and what that means as students?
Is the meal provided by the school worth its cost?
Many students would have at one time or another eaten at the school cafeteria. However, the service and taste of meals at university, compared to high schools, are very different. At university, students are given a wider selection of items on the menus. That is, meals are not pre-determined by the canteen staff, which is one of the great things about eating on campus as a university student. Unlike middle and high school where students must eat lunch at a specific time, university students enjoy the benefit of eating whenever they wish or as their timetables permit. Also, the size of the cafeteria is much bigger than at secondary school, so university students can eat their meals comfortably. However, generally, most of them prefer to eat off-campus. For this reason, schools are focusing on the taste and service provided at cafeterias, and more and more schools see their canteens become crowded at mealtimes. They offer students a means of a quick healthy meal between lectures.
Sookmyung Women's University has three cafeterias on campus: Miso-chan and school personnel cafeteria on Campus I and Hyu (休), the student cafeteria on Campus II. In 2019, Samsung wellstory started to provide meals for Sookmyung Women's University. The change was happily met, and among the Sookmyungians raising their voices towards it, Kim Dahee, Department of Software Convergence ’19, said, “It’s great to be able to eat at any time during a break between lectures. The best thing is that the food is served fast.” However, Kim did also point out some grievances many students have complained about. “The quality of the ingredients does not always reflect the price I pay for the meal. I'd rather spend a few thousand won more and have a more delicious meal at a restaurant near the university.” Then, what is the ranking of Sookmyung cafeteria among universities in Seoul? SMT reporters investigated other schools’ meal services by comparing them to the cafeteria of Sookmyung. They visited three prominent universities in Seoul and had a meal in their cafeterias.
Meals at cafeterias
SMT reporters first visited Dongguk University located in Jung-gu, Seoul. Just entering the cafeteria at Dongguk, they quickly realized how much it considered students first. The menu had a large variety of items that caught the eyes of reporters upon entering the restaurant. There were over 30 items on the menu including snacks and Korean dishes. Reporters believed it would fully satisfy students’ diverse palate appetite as it offered them a wide range of choices. They ordered ‘Fried Rice with Samgyeopsal Kimchi’. The serving size was reasonable and enjoyable, filling up anyone ordering the dish with its smoky flavor and serving of a sunny-side-up egg. Because Dongguk was founded by the Buddhists, it also offers a separate buffet-style vegetarian counter to cater to its vegetarian patrons. Reporters could fully understand the need for the school to consider students with various stances.
Traveling about 30 minutes by subway from Dongguk, reporters arrived at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS). This school’s biggest advantage, which was spotted clearly, was the cost-effectiveness of the dishes offered on the cafeteria menu. Reporters were amazed that the most expensive item was only 2,500 won, and most of the dishes ranged in the 1,000 won price. It was impressive, given that most other schools set prices ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 won. Considering that most students worry about the financial burden of expensive meals, HUFS provides relief with its low-cost meals. HUFS also sold other items such as Gimbap and Toast separately from the cafeteria meal area, and students could also receive their orders immediately upon ordering. However, since the student cafeteria is not open to outsiders, reporters could simply take the pictures of the menu items and the inside of the restaurant. They had to order their meal at the faculty restaurant, which is accessible to people not affiliated with HUFS.
Finally, Sejong University, the last school SMT reporters visited, definitely offered the most flavorful dishes of all three schools. Sejong is already well known for its delicious school meals because of the eating show <Tasty Guys>. It has five cafeterias on its 111,676m² site, which in terms of size is relatively smaller than other schools. The meal chosen by reporters was ‘Rice with Salted Pork’ because it was recommended by students on numerous blog postings. The combination of fried pork marinated in the rice has made the dish famous and cafeteria popular. Also, Sejong provides a choice of soup, eaten as a side-dish, with its main dishes. Reporters were really impressed with the high-quality food served in dishes at Sejong which were reasonably priced.
Not only tasty but also unforgettable
From today’s trip, SMT reporters experienced a variety of new things, beyond the opportunity to enjoy delicious school meals. Reporters were also able to then reflect on the state of meals at Sookmyung by comparing them with other school cafeteria menus. To all Sookmyungians reading this article, reporters would like to recommend you take a meal trip to other universities for a new and unforgettable tasty experience like us. Trying other delicious foods and getting off campus for a moment will refresh your mind and give you the chance to ponder a variety of things. Our trip allowed us to reflect on food for students beyond a simple gourmet meal experience.
Choi Cho Huiryung / Reporter
Kim Lee Hyunmin / Reporter