Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Peyton Lawrenz ’19

Santa Fe, New Mexico • Politics View Profile

My 2016 Princeton Experience in Three Short Anecdotes

As I reflect on my experience at Princeton in 2016, here are three short anecdotes that speak to my pride and gratitude for this school:

  1. An excerpt from an overenthusiastic email I sent to one of my high school teachers after a meeting with a Princeton professor: “This afternoon, I had an appointment with the firector of the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies executive committee, Professor Dimitri H. Gondicas, to discuss how I will fulfill the certificate requirements. As I described (somewhat frantically) all the disciplines that I am interested in studying, he interjected only to make graceful leaps between my abstract suggestions — connecting all of my lingering questions, qualms and concerns about finding balance in my studies. He transitioned smoothly from the links between political theory and the history and practice of diplomacy, to their respective connections with Hellenic Studies, to how these disciplines will relate to my postgraduate interests. He guided me through a balanced approach for embracing analytical thinking while simultaneously addressing perspectives rooted in history and diplomacy. I am filled with this inquisitive energy right now. This kind of affirmation and encouragement makes me feel so connected to this University and to my studies. I walked away from our discussion feeling the same passion that I had when I wrote my Common Application essay, when I received my letter of admission and when I got back my professor’s comments on my first paper here. This is what it’s about.”
  2. Greece and Some Philosophy: Last summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a PIIRS Global Seminar “Athens: Culture and Counter Culture” in Athens, Greece with Professor Christian Wildberg. Through the six-week seminar, I had the opportunity to learn modern Greek, engage with ancient Greek philosophical, religious and political texts, and visit many of the archeological sites mentioned in the texts from our coursework. Although I cannot fully describe how valuable these experiences were, I will leave you with an excerpt from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus that struck me so strongly, it now adorns a wall in my dorm room: “'It is impossible to step twice into the same river,' as Heraclitus says…It scatters and regathers, comes together and dissolves, approaches and departs.” (Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 393b10-c3 Babbit, as cited in Robin, Waterfield, The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists (Oxford University Press, 2009))
  3. Language, Travel and Endings: Three languages I have learned as a student at Princeton: modern Greek, Italian, Spanish; three countries I have visited through programs sponsored by Princeton: Greece, Italy, Spain; three goodbyes to 2016: Αντίο σας, addio, adios.