Tennessee Alumnus

Laughing at the Lunch Table

Favorite Place on Campus at Health Science Center

By Heather Jeffries

You’d think, by the time you’re 22 years old, fitting in wouldn’t matter, but you’d be wrong. The first week or so of med school, I found myself wondering who the cool kids would be, if I’d make the cut or if there even would be any “cool kids” in med school. Let’s face it – most likely not. So, when lunch time came, I had to pick my cafeteria table, well, my GEB (General Education Building) lobby table. I sat down with a group of sarcastic students whose laughter seemed to fill up the whole room. This table became my favorite place, and these people became some of my best friends.

The first two years of medical school are spent in the classroom. With little time for lunch or relaxation, it’s usually easiest to eat in the GEB – right next to the lecture hall. Every day, we sit and talk about the previous lecture or professor for the hour of freedom that seems a lot shorter than the schedule on our Smartphone says. Sometimes the conversation is an intellectual one, and we spend the lunch clarifying difficult concepts and trying to help each other make it through the next block exam or assessment. Eventually we remember ourselves and start joking at the expense of one another, creating an endless list of inside jokes.

We sit surrounded by students from other schools in their color-coded scrubs and enjoy the more difficult years of our long road to medical school graduation. Whenever I come back to visit this campus, I’ll grab some coffee from the nice ladies at the GEB café and hopefully see clumps of students bonding over a quick meal. As cliché as it seems, even walking through the room makes me laugh as I remember a funny phrase or story. A seemingly unimportant, functional area became a place filled with laughter and great memories.

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Heather Jeffries is a third-year medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.