Photo by Casey Gomez

GT 1000 should have a unit on How Not to Burn Down Your Kitchen. One of the first things you have to know how to do when living away from your parents is how to feed yourself, and by extension, not send the kitchen up in a pillar of flame. You learn to watch the oven so your banana bread does not explode or how to navigate your cramped kitchen where one is company, two is a crowd, and three is a fire hazard.

And, like most things in college, you figure things out by trial and error.

Not everyone comes to Tech on equal footing, whether that is by number of credit hours, time management skills or knowledge of how to work a laundry machine. Cooking is no different — some people have been whipping up meals all their life, while others (like me) cannot attempt a meal without creating the kind of horror that keeps Gordon Ramsey awake at night.

My first brush with responsibility in the kitchen involved myself, an unlucky loaf of bread, and the freezer. Pro tip for those who are getting used to stocking a fridge themselves: even if you are in a rush, make sure you put everything in its place and away from the ice maker, especially the bread. Otherwise bread will get sucked into the ice maker and your ice cubes will have fragments of carbohydrates for a week. And you will have to dig frozen bread and plastic out of the ice maker yourself.

As the year has worn on, my roommates and I have encountered all sorts of Code Red situations in the cookhouse: egg noodles gluey enough to serve as a mild adhesive, the aforementioned exploding banana bread and an oven hot enough to fry off your eyebrows if you look at it funny. We also work around the poss-essed microwave clock, which exists in an alternate universe were daylight saving is an urban legend and no matter how many times you set it forward, it will revert back like nothing happened.

But for every curveball the kitchen launches at us, my roommates and I have improvised a hit. No double boiler? Fashion one out of a colander and pot. Want to make muffins but don’t have a muffin tin? Use the waffle maker — though be warned, because over-excited muffin mix will overflow and ooze across the counter. Despite the lopsided stove tops and unreliable microwave clock, the kitchen has yet to throw something at us that we cannot handle. We’ve had to think on our feet, and handling yourself in the kitchen is no different from handling yourself at Tech or in the outside world: you figure out what works, learn from your mistakes and become a little more self-sufficient each time you mess up and fix something. Being able to navigate the kitchen is only one small segment of college life, but part of growing up isn’t just waking up and realizing you’re an adult — it’s the little steps along the way that teach you to think for yourself.

I still swear that microwave is possessed, though.