First Week Reflections: A Challenge

Hi! I’m back! I know everyone’s probably expecting a delicious update, but there’s something more serious I’d like to address: Privilege and Poverty

I’ve always understood that I was privileged to say the least. We are by no means crazy rich, but I’ve never had to go without ANYTHING. If I wanted something, chances are, my parents would find a way for me to have it.

Although I knew I had it good, everyone around me in HS had it good, if not better, so I didn’t really think much of my new laptop, imported yogurt or weekly food adventures. Well, CMU took off my gold tinted blinders. Although CMU has one of the lowest percentages of “low income” students, many of the friends I’ve met are far from as well off as me. So I decided to challenge my privilege.

The Challenge: Spend no more than $11 (Technically $45/month). Since it was Orientation week, my cushy meal plan didn’t kick in. I was stuck with either the catering or paying cash for extras.

The results: My meal plan kicks in tomorrow and I didn’t break budget. A success in my opinion. Well, here’s what I learned

  1. It’s HARD and stressful- $11 a week with meals covered is hardly a budget, but I struggled big time. I love my daily decaf or matcha- not here. Every dollar counted. I remember agonizing over whether to spurge. Embarrassingly enough, I actually considered calling my parents to ask whether I should get a coffee (on more than one occasion at that). The most eyeopening, however, was getting a glimpse of the stress of coming up short. See, I assumed we would have the meal plan by the Monday of O- week, so I went into the shop thinking I could stock up on fruit and yogurt. Nope! I was stuck with catering and my budget…. Luckily, I came up short on coffee and yogurt, not rent or electricity
  2. I’m still spoiled- Given than all meals were covered and bottle fill stations at every corner, my “budget” should have been $0. But…. I just couldn’t resist getting snack bars and coffee on more occasions than necessary.

I know I didn’t experience (and hopefully never will) real poverty, but this experiment was eye opening to say the least. I’ll definitely be far more conscious moving forward.

With that said, I hope this post wasn’t too dry. I promise I’ll be back with a recap of this week’s Pittsburg adventure tomorrow.

Until then, BYE!

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