Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dinner Club, One Year Anniversary

There are some things that you are not supposed to do just by yourself. Things like watching a movie at the theater, going to Disneyland, going to Las Vegas, or eating out at restaurants.

Some things I do by myself anyway (um, do you realize how EASY it is to find just ONE seat at the movies? I get prime viewing every time!). For some things, like traveling, I will wait until plans with friends fall into place. And for some things, well, I try to make them happen.

Such was the case with Dinner Club. I wanted to eat, at cool places in Boston, with friends.

Well, why not? With a nod to my family's infamous motto, "How hard can it be?", the monthly dinner outing was born. The first outing was last January, to an Ethiopian restaurant.

I am pleased to note that tonight, we are heading out for the Jan 2011 outing, a full year later. We've gone eleven times so far (only one month did we have to cancel). We've been to places that serve French Cambodian, Italian, Indian French, Tapas, Shabu-Shabu, and Brazilian food. I think next month will be Turkish.

The original email list has grown from just my friends, to friends of friends, and significant others of friends, and new labmates, and new classmates, and whoever else was interested. Instead of me having to come up with new places each month, now I just pick from all the suggestions. Instead of being limited by getting enough people to come, now we are limited by how many the restaurant can take for reservations.

You know, I've been quite involved with student life at my time here at World's Best School. I've been the RA for a graduate dorm, the RA for an undergrad dorm, spent two years as an officer in the MechE student club, been in an entrepreneurship club for two years, and been to countless student life events. But this is the most diverse thing I do. Usually an event is marketed to a specific group of people - just MechE students, or just first year students, or just students who live in this dorm.

But because this dinner thing just grew by word of mouth, we have people who live all over, from all points along the PhD journey, from all sorts of different majors. Old, cynical grad students usually won't come to social stuff anymore (young bushy tailed grad students just discourage them, perhaps?), but they will come to eat. Brand new grad students sometimes feel awkward going to something where they don't know anybody, but what's more low-key than simple dinner? I invite new labmates when they arrive, and it's an easy way for them to meet people.

The other type of event that brings people together like this is events that involve drinking - a pub crawl, or karaoke, or trivia night at the bar. But not everybody drinks - especially my friends, who are not really the hardcore partying type. So, again, dinner works! And the fact that it's at a different place every month keeps it interesting.

The only thing better would be if it were cheaper.

But then someone gave me a suggestion - the guy who organizes the Scotch tastings, actually, when I was talking to him. If this event really is this well-liked, and well-attended, and diverse, and supports student life, why not apply for a grant? The concept has surely been proven, now that we're one year in.

So I did.

I put in an application to get some funding from World's Best School, to subsidize the cost of meals. I won't know for another month or two if the application is accepted, but fingers crossed. Worth a shot, anyway! In the meantime, I'm still enjoying the food and friends.

And maybe this can be an inspiration to you - why not invite a couple friends, take yourself out or eat in, and catch up on life? Surely there's a place in your area that you've been meaning to try, or a new food you've been wanting to cook. If it'll shift your mind from work to fun, what's not to like about that?


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