Q:What are the main dining halls at Brown? What about libraries? Do students have any nicknames for either of them? I want to make sure to see the main sites when I come to visit campus :)
The two main dining halls are the Sharpe Refectory (called the Ratty) and the Verney-Woolley (V-Dub) dining halls.
The two main libraries are the Sciences Library (SciLi) and the Rockefeller Library (the Rock). You also might want to check out the John Hay (right next to the Rock), because it’s crazy cool.
If you get a chance to visit other eateries, check out the Blue Room or the new eatery, Andrew Commons.
Q:I know most college students eat in the diners of the University, but I was wondering whether or not making your own meal from time to time is completely unheard of.
Most dorms have kitchens where you can cook for yourself. I lived in a suite with a kitchen and prepared a lot of my own meals last year, but it was way too much of a hassle to cook in the communal kitchens, since people steal your stuff if you leave it there, but I guess you could do it if you were willing to schlep your cooking supplies around or live very close to the kitchen.
It’s not unheard of but it’s not easy. Even when I had my own kitchen, I would be pressed for time or unwilling to hand wash the dishes (no Brown kitchen comes equipped with a dishwasher). It can be fun to cook for yourself as a special treat or a project, but be aware that you then need to actually HAVE cookware, because the kitchens don’t have pots and pans. I don’t know where you’re from, but your utilization of the term “diners” makes me vaguely suspicious that you’re British? Sorry if that’s inaccurate, but keep in mind that a frying pan takes up a lot of room in your luggage. Anyway, I would say it’s not unheard of but I really recommend relying on your meal plan as a freshman. As a sophomore, I recommend going off meal plan to save money, but still eating out all the time, because that is literally cheaper than meal plan.
Hi there! Your blog is awesome and really helpful! I absolutely love Brown and applied ED. I have a few questions:
1) Can you use your Brown meal card at any of the off-campus dining places?
Nope. There are multiple eateries around campus, which means you get plenty of options, but it’s not like at NYU where you get to use your meal credits at Starbucks or something.
2) What are the teachers at Brown like, and how available are they?
Teachers are generally pretty available but in larger classes they might refer you to TAs. Just like at any school, there are good professors and bad professors and people’s opinions on what category each professor falls in vary widely. I’ve loved professors and found them fascinating while other people in the class have found them dull. But the great thing about Brown is that you can shop and find a professor that meets your needs. On the whole, I’ve liked my professors.
3) What is a typical day/week at Brown like for you?
A typical day for me involves waking up at around 11, grabbing brunch, and going to class and doing homework or hanging out with friends in my breaks between classes. At night, I’m usually heading to a club or section, working out, or getting dinner with friends. After 9 or 10, I usually try to get work done in the library or hang out with people (or both!) until the wee hours of the morning.
Thank you so much!
Q:is health food easy to get around brown?
You just hit on one of my favorite topics, kid.
As someone on a strict diet (vegetarian and low-fat, for cholesterol health reasons), I find that it is exceedingly difficult for me to find things on the Brown University Meal Plan that suit my needs. Though we are supposedly a very vegetarian-friendly school, the main dining halls are very repetitive with their vegetarian offerings and it can be difficult to obtain appropriate amounts of protein. I have issues with soy as well (I need to limit my intake), so I really didn’t appreciate the amount of times they just threw tofu in something. The produce is supposedly locally grown, making it “better”, but it’s genuinely bad. I could not tolerate how disgusting some of that fruit tastes. Having worked at the Ratty, I can tell you that most of the food comes pre-prepared and is not made fresh, which may affect your decision on whether or not it’s healthy.
The worst bit is that only the Ratty and the V-Dub (main dining halls) provide customers with nutritional information. We have no information on the nutritional content of any food that does not come pre-packaged in the eateries, like Jo’s, the Ivy Room, the Gate, or the Blue Room.
But before I go further, I want to point out that you asked about “health food.” What exactly does that mean to you? For some, eating healthy is about eating balanced. Organic/fresh/non-processed is not important to them and they just want to get appropriate nutrition without taking in too much of anything that is bad for them. Some people are not concerned at all with their nutritional intake, but are concerned with the processed nature of their food. For example, they are perfectly willing to eat a steak with fries if it came from grass-fed cattle, organic potatoes, fresh olive oil, and unrefined sea salt, despite the fact that this sort of eating behavior will still clog your arteries. I don’t know where you fall there, but for me personally, I’m more about my cholesterol so I worry more about my nutrition than the actually nature of my food.
Yes, you can easily eat a balanced meal at one of the main dining halls or put together a healthy option at the eateries, all of which sell fruit, Greek yogurt, Odwallas, and similar products, in addition to providing some sort of option that is low in fat and sugar like a salad or a wrap. This was important to me whenever I decided to eat at the eateries. However, you do have limits your variety and nothing is so healthy that I would consider it “health food.” The Blue Room is the only place where I’ve seen truly fresh food without excessive processing and I’ve worked in multiple eateries.
I personally felt limited and bored with meal plan, so I decided to go off of it and cook for myself (buying food from Eastside Market, Pricerite, and Whole Foods). Au Bon Pain offers some really nice healthy options and much tastier fruit. Nice Slice is a pizza place that offers organic, whole wheat, and gluten free options. You can still go to the eateries (I still frequented the Blue Room) and get food there and it actually wound up being cheaper for me to be off meal plan than on, while providing me with the opportunity to eat healthier with more options, since I was mainly cooking for myself.
tl;dr: If you’re on meal plan, it’s possible to eat healthy but the options are sort of limited, it can be difficult to find nutritional information***, and the food is not always good. If you’re off meal plan, there are plenty of options for purchasing healthy food in the area, most importantly Whole Foods.
***Over the summer, Brown installed computers where you can look at the nutritional values of food in both of the dining halls, so they’re definitely working to somewhat improve what information students can obtain about food!
Fresh[man] Tips: The Meal Credit/Points + 20/week versus Flex Plan
For a listing of the Meal Plans, click here. Note: This is an incredibly long post, but to fully understand these Meal Plans, I highly recommend reading all of it. Feel free to ask any questions.
For all of you who are confused as to which meal plan to get, we’ve updated our Meal Credit/Meal Plan guide with overviews of both. Enjoy!
Q:Breakfast quandary: What hours are the cafeterias open for breakfast and--more important part--if I sleep in past those hours, is there some sort of alternative (cheap) place on/off campus where students eat breakfast? They say breakfast is the most important part of the day, but I value my Z's too. Can I have my cake and eat it too, or do I have to sacrifice one or the other? Thanks! -Incoming freshman.
The Ratty (open at 7:30 on weekdays/Saturday and 10:30 on Sundays) and the Blue Room (open at 7:30 on weekdays and 9 AM on weekends) don’t close until their actual closing times in the evening, so you never need to worry about the dining halls closing and you missing breakfast. They serve breakfast foods all day (the Blue Room has sandwiches and pastries and the Ratty has cereals and breads, in addition to traditional hot breakfast food in the morning).
Au Bon Pain, Bagel Gourmet, Bagel Gourmet Ole, Starbucks, Blue State, and the Creperie place are all off-campus alternatives, as is just buying a box of cheerios and leaving it in your room.
Fresh[man] Advice: Top Five Foods To Order At The Eateries
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect BuDS changes.
So it’s the first week of school. Your new friends are telling you they want to go eat at the Ivy Room and you think, ‘oh cool, I’ve been eating at the Ratty pretty much 24/7, this is a change!’ So then you order your specialty pizza and you realize that your whole night is basically ruined by the fact that you actually let something this disgusting enter your body.
Never fear! FYBU is here to tell you the Top 5 Foods to order at the eateries to make sure you’re making awesome choices that’ll make all your new friends jealous. Check it out after the jump!
Free Food Opportunity of the Day
Looking for some free breakfast tomorrow? Try “Coffee and Careers”. Every Monday morning from 10-12, the Career Lab has open hours in the Advising Center on the the 3rd floor of J Walter Wilson (that building where your mailbox is). This event, which lets you talk to a career adviser for as long as you want, also provides FREE MUFFINS. Do it. Trust me.
Helpful Tip #3: Need Lunch?
It’s 12 pm. You just got out of your hour and a half long lecture (which you spent on facebook), and now you’re starving. Where do you go?
- If you’re one of those idiots on the minimal points plans, I guess the V Dub is your best bet. There’s pretty much ALWAYS better food here, and on Fridays you get the luxury of Chicken Fingers. Yum.
- For you smarties on the flex plans, however, go down to the Ivy Room at least once a week. The prices are a little steep and they don’t accept meal credits during the day, but the food here is by far the best on campus. The reason for the pricey meals is to keep it faculty only down here, but you can’t keep me out. My pick: Grilled Cheese and Curly Fries, or a Hot Waterman with Cranberry Mayo. Be sure to check out the dessert fridge as well - it’s like Ratty dessert only ten times better.
- Another note on the Ivy Room: They have a really great deal where you get curly fries and a soda for a much lower price than if you get them separately. Make sure the cashier rings you up properly for that (usually it’s Jose, much to everyone’s joy).
- If neither of these are to your liking, you can always try using cash at the meal trucks around campus. Mama Kims is always great for those of you Korean food lovers.
- Never overlook the library carts. They’re all over the place (the Sci Li, Barus and Holley, and the Rock, which pretty much covers all corners of campus) and they’re great for grabbing a snack, especially since there’s usually no line. I usually get the Jumbo Croissant, a Tropicana, or a muffin. I’ve heard the sandwiches at the Sci Li are pretty good too.