Smiling class of 2024 students running through Fitzrandolph gate at the Pre-rade

I studied remotely for my first year, so my sophomore fall semester was my first time living on campus. One of the best parts of being in person is being able to partake in Princeton's numerous traditions that aim to build community in the Orange Bubble, so here are seven of my favorites that I've had the chance to experience:

1. Pre-Rade

Student cheerleaders in orange and black at the Pre-rade

The Pre-rade is a parade in which an incoming class is officially welcomed to Princeton by running through Fitzrandolph gates. Alumni, upperclassmen and the student band cheer for you as you sprint through the black iron gates in front of Nassau Hall. The Class of 2024 didn't have a Pre-rade last year due to the pandemic, so ours was held this year just before the Class of 2025 Pre-rade. Students never walk through Fitzrandolph gates again until commencement, because legend has it you won't graduate in four years if you do! I don't know if I believe this, but I'm not going to be the one to find out.

2. Chalkboards

chalkboard with equations for Mechanics of Solids

I have yet to see a single dry-erase whiteboard on the Princeton campus. Instead, every classroom or office I've seen has a traditional black chalkboard. I'm not entirely sure what the logic is behind this. You're forced to write more slowly on a chalkboard, I've found, so maybe this forces professors to slow down when teaching and helps students pinpoint mistakes in their reasoning when working through equations. Whatever the purpose, writing on a chalkboard feels old-fashioned and classic in a way that reminds me of Einstein working at Princeton (even when I'm only writing out a homework problem instead of refining the theories of quantum physics).

3. Forbes Garden and Sunday Brunch

harvested cherry tomatoes in pots from the Forbes garden

My residential college, Forbes, is home to both the Princeton Garden Project, where student garden managers organize workdays where students can help weed and harvest, and to their famous weekly Sunday brunch, complete with a chocolate fountain. I enjoyed checking out the garden this semester and seeing the vegetables and fruits they were growing, and the Sunday brunch never failed to impress. 

4. Bonfire

Harvard and Yale-decorated wooden crates and house on Cannon Green

When the Princeton football team defeats both Harvard and Yale in the same season, the tradition is to host a celebratory bonfire on Cannon Green. Each class year had a specified time throughout the day when they could place crates on the structure to be burned, and in the evening students cheered as the Yale and Harvard-decorated structure went up in flames.

5. Outdoor Action

students on a hike at the Mountain Lakes Preserve

Outdoor Action is best-known for organizing the pre-orientation camping trip for first years, but they also offer hikes and other sporting activities to all students throughout the year. On "OA Day" Saturday this semester, I decided to join a hike at the Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve (about a mile off campus). The scenery was lovely and I was able to meet some new people.

6. Newspapers

The Daily Princetonian is always available online, but I really enjoy reading a copy of the physical newspaper. Having a print copy allows me to see stories that wouldn't otherwise catch my eye online, and it's nice to get a break from the screen. Each Friday afternoon copies of the Daily Princetonian and the Nassau Weekly, the literary magazine, are distributed to the residential colleges. I always look forward to picking up my copies and catching up with news and discussion of the Orange Bubble at the end of the week.

7. Applause after the final lecture

At the conclusion of the final lecture on the last day of classes, the students erupt into a hearty round of applause in gratitude for all the knowledge the professor has imparted throughout the semester. This occurred in a way on Zoom last year in the form of "thank you!" messages and "clapping hands" emojis flooding the chat, but it was so much more meaningful in person.

These were the Princeton traditions I got to experience this fall, and I'm looking forward to what sophomore spring will bring!

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