Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Peyton Lawrenz ’19

Santa Fe, New Mexico • Politics View Profile

Pursuing Passion at Princeton

(I’m a big fan of alliterations)

East Pyne Arch

In my senior year of high school, I went on a Russian literature kick, devouring Tolstoy’s "Anna Karenina," and "War and Peace," and Mikhail Bulgakov’s "The Master and Margarita" all in the last month of school. Paired with a fascinating Russian History class I took in the Spring and a research project on Russian ballet, I was hooked on Russian and gladly joked that at Princeton, I would study Russian and major in Slavic Languages and Literatures. I was particularly interested in a Freshman Seminar titled Cold War in the USSR: The Life and Times of Nikita Khrushchev. Freshman seminars are small, discussion-based classes on a huge range of topics, and only first-year students can take them. I was infatuated with Russian history and language and culture.

However, through the quick and new transitions of moving away from home, taking classes in completely new and unfamiliar fields (Ethics! Art History! Religion!), and finding new friends, my passions grew and then changed. 

A year and a half later, I am a Politics major, I am getting certificates in Hellenic Studies (after spending an amazing summer in Athens, participating in a Princeton PIIRS Global Seminar) and History and Practice of Diplomacy. And I am not taking Russian, but Italian. However, these changes speak to the beautiful power of transition, growth, and the amazing resources at Princeton that help foster individual and academic passion. 

I do not speak about passion lightly. Princeton is a place for incredible growth — I have changed and grown. But behind those changes are the people I’ve met, including those from Hong Kong, Greece  and Hawaii; the classes I’ve taken—from an Art History seminar called “The Perils of Painting” to the Humanities Sequence; and the professors that I have had the pleasure to listen to and learn from. As a place where you will simultaneously study, socialize, volunteer and lead, Princeton will shape you and your passions. These changes are good and special and scary and important. Although I won’t major in Slavic Languages and Literatures, I still read Russian novels in my free time, and I now devote my energy to pursuing new passions and new interests.