Eating Alone on the College Tour 

By: Bonnie Klein

It's a date with your number one …that's right, you. You're out on the college tour, and your child has just headed to the dorm for a sleepover with your neighbors' friends cousin's daughter and now you're sitting all alone in your hotel room. Do not even think of ordering in room service or a Dominos pizza, just as your child is getting a slice of real college life you should too. Walking around the town and then heading to dinner allows you to see life beyond the campus and what your child's day to day life at school would look like. Shy? Here are some tips and perks for dining solo.

•    Dine at the bar-- it's an excellent way to experience a restaurant without feeling lonely or isolated at a table. I guarantee you'll end up talking to at least the bartender, but I bet you make some "new" friends with the people around you. Engage your neighbors in conversations; ask them questions about their favorite places in the area, their perceptions of the student body, and the community's interaction with the college or university.  

•    If you prefer to sit at a table but feel uncomfortable, bring along a book or magazine, plus you always have your good friend the mobile phone to keep you company. Clean up those emails, delete photos or catch up on your news feed or Instagram, but remember to look up once in a while as you're here to observe!

•    One is a lucky number when it comes to impossibly popular restaurants. There is usually a stray seat at the bar or a community table, and you can generally skip the line. 

•    If it's been a long day and you're tired head to the local pizza place, hamburger joint or diner like café. Students usually frequent these places as well, so it's an excellent chance to observe upperclassmen in action.

•    You can decide where you want to go and order whatever you want. After a few days touring and catering to your child's whims—be it if they're a vegetarian or a burger only, sushi fanatic, or I only want pizza kind of kid it's nice for a chance to sit and savor a meal of your choice and at your leisure. 

•    In college towns, there's usually a bookstore that has author readings, book clubs, or poetry nights or a coffee house that has live music at night. Think beyond dinner and look into what else is happening while you're in town. Ask at your hotel, pick up the student newspaper, or google what's happening in the city. For example, when I searched for "what's happening in Oxford Mississippi this weekend, it brought me to a Visit Oxford site that had all latest happenings in town and at the University—Bingo! 

Remember, as we get older and life rushes by it is a gift to enjoy one's own company. So be confident, have fun and Bon Appetit!.